Songs of Nature

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- A Prayer for Those who are Suffering

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Day 25

Written By Eyleen Farmer

Image courtesy of Rebecca Webb Wilson, Hawkeye Nature Photography


I remember the time past; I muse upon all your deeds; I consider the works of your hands. —Psalm 143:5

Image courtesy of Rebecca Webb Wilson; copyright 2010My mother was born with a severe case of wanderlust, but it was only after we kids were grown that she became a serious traveler. Then every year or so she went somewhere: Europe, Egypt, the Holy Land, China. Part of her fun was to create, upon her return home, scrapbooks of her adventures. Postcards and maps, ticket stubs and menus—anything that could be glued down went into those albums.

When she died, I was at a loss as to what to do with them. They represented her trips, her memories, and held little sentimental value for me. Not only that, they were heavy and took up a lot of room. As my brother and I began the process of going through our mother’s things, it seemed that everything presented us with a dilemma. Did we keep the scrapbooks or throw them away? Who did we know who might like to have the pink living room lamps? It took days of sorting things into various piles, putting things into boxes and bags, organizing the distribution of furniture, books, and knick-knacks. It was exhausting, and it made me so sad.

The dispersal of a loved one’s possessions can be one of the unexpected tribulations of grief; it is definitely part of what makes grief work. Each single thing requires a decision of some kind, and each decision has the potential to be emotionally loaded. Long-forgotten sibling rivalries can suddenly be reawakened; old disappointments and unresolved resentments can arise with surprising force. You may, when you come to the scarf you gave as a birthday gift, dissolve into helpless tears.

It may help to remember that you have already been through a lot. It is normal to be more vulnerable and less resilient than usual. Things you could take in stride before the loss may seem overwhelming now. Be patient with yourself. Slow down. You don’t have to do everything today, and you don’t have to do it alone. Dealing with a loved one’s “stuff” will stir up memories, but it doesn’t have to stir you up unduly. Cultivating an attitude of quiet thoughtfulness—musing, considering—will help to steady you as you carry out all the necessary chores.

O God, as I go about doing the tasks at hand, steady my wobbly heart. Amen.