Daily Devotion for Wednesday 6th December 2023

Wednesday, 6 December 2023  Traumatic death
There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds hard, but at the same time, it is also a great comfort. For to the extent of emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it, but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve.. even the pain… the authentic relationship. Furthermore, the more beautiful and full of remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory in silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past, not as a thorn, but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain
 
Deitrich Bonhoeffer
Reflection

I remember exactly when and where I was, when I heard that my close friend had taken his own life. It was January 1980, and I was cradling my eldest daughter in the maternity unit.  Only a few hours earlier, Ian had come to see us both, and he held her for a long time. We recalled how we sneaked into the side room so he could hear her heartbeat when she was a 20 weeks old foetus.  We drank hot chocolate and he wrote in her baby book. I was so pleased he managed to come as he had had a busy day in surgery. I had known Ian since I started my nurse training, when he was a first year medical student and I was living in the nurses homes adjacent to the Doctors’ Homes. We just clicked, and over the years, we remained friends.

On that fateful day, another of our friends came and drew the curtains around my bed, her red eyes and shaky voice explaining that Ian had taken his life. I cannot recall precisely what I said or did, but I can remember my emotions and the intense feeling loss, and that has stayed with me all my life. 

All I kept recalling was the last conversation I had with him, whether I missed the signs of sadness behind his masked smile, and I regretted not having my camera near me.  I often think of Ian, and others who feel the need to take their life.  Now, I give thanks for his life and how his impact has shaped my Doula and Samaritan roles 44 years after his death. Whether the person is called Ian, Jess, George or …yes Judas, a sudden or traumatic death leaves a mark within us. 

In the space of 24 hours the Divine Midwife was revealed in the birth of my daughter and the death of Ian. The Divine Midwife left a mark on me…. and that mark is called Love.

Prayer

God in whom I live, breathe and have my being, 
can you hear me through my tears and pain?
Can you reach out to touch my foggy emotions?
Can you feel my aching lungs struggling to breathe?   
Can you truly understand my lamentations?
My deepest desire is for peace for those who have:
taken their life, died alone, died violently,  or died with no hope.
My deepest desire is for them to finally encounter Love. Amen

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Ruth Dillon is a retired URC minister, member at Glenorchy URC, Exmouth and the Quakers Community, Exmouth and an End of life Doula with End of Life UK and with Dying with Grace, affordable South Devon Doula Support

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