Daily Devotion for Thursday 7th December 2023

Thursday, 7 December 2023 Learning from Grief and Loss
Death is unfair.  Anger is a natural reaction to the unfairness of loss. Those who have the strength and love to sit with a dying person in the silence that goes beyond words will know that this moment is neither frightening nor painful, but a peaceful cessation of the functioning body
Elizabeth Kubler- Ross: On Death and Dying
What human family has not known death? Death is as common as birth yet why are we so hesitant about talking about death?

Firstly we need to recognise and own our own grief and losses through our years. Grief is different for everyone, there is no right or wrong way to feel when someone we love dies.  Knowing what our grief looks and feels like can help us understand ourselves.  Grief is a process, and has no length of time, but it does depend on cultural expectations.   

There are different types of grief and loss.  

Anticipated loss, is when the person’s death is expected, so you are in the ‘waiting room’ of grief, cannot grieve just yet but it’s not far away.

Disenfranchisement loss, is when we are not ‘allowed’ to grieve for someone who has died, a past or recent lover, issues around birth parents with adoption and fostering, grief must be hidden and kept a secret. 

Liberating loss, is where there is a real sense of release, of being liberated from the burden. 

Ambiguous loss, is when there has been a real sense of loss of personality and character, and we have grieved over that person. The second grief is when they finally die and there is final closure.

Secondary loss is when you repeatedly grieve over the associated losses, friendships, challenges in relationships.

All these types of losses are interwoven so we don’t just feel one type we can experience a combination.

One area, that I am reflecting upon is the intense grief that is expressed when someone has immediately died, where the grief is palpable, and raw. Is it just our grief, or are we absorbing the grief of the person who has just died at the loss of leaving us behind. Our souls recognize other kindred spirits, so I am wondering whether there is a recognition of grief, so we express the dead person’s loss through absorbing their grief.

I think lamenting should be reclaimed, when we don’t just cry and grieve from our voices, it is from the depths of our being.  


Lord, my response to grief and loss is only known to you:
the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the depression, then the acceptance.
Give me strength to see your peace, your truth and your love, 
this day, 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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