Help in Dealing with Grief from Carolinas Based Rev. Amanda RobertsonMar 01, 2021 11:11AM ● By Amanda Robertson
The first funeral I officiated was my father’s. I had been ordained for one year when he suffered a brain hemorrhage. He lived another 14 months and at his death my stepmother shared his wishes that I would conduct his service. I immediately wished he and I had spoken more openly, more directly, about this eventuality. My stepmother and I worked together to craft a service to meet the needs of my family, with its various Christian affiliations, and to reflect his spirit. It was, without a doubt, one of the most challenging days and also one of the most instructive and humbling privileges of my life.
Every funeral I have since led has been with an appreciation for the need for community and ritual to mark such a life-changing event as a death. Grief is by its nature isolating. Even within a family, no two people are grieving the same things nor will they grieve the same way. And yet, the presence of family and community reminds the bereaved that they are not alone. Grief is largely invisible and unseen. But ritual and ceremony give expression to the sorrow, help celebrate a life lived and its relationships and speak hope for what is to come—not only for the deceased, but also for those who mourn.
I have now spent 15 years in parish ministry. I am married to a funeral director and we own a cemetery. We speak openly about death. We also talk openly about grief. My parishioners have taught me that what is helpful at a time of death is also helpful when grieving other losses. Divorce, job loss, infertility, estrangement, critical diagnoses and chronic illness all invite us to find the community and the support we need. While our experiences of these losses will be as individual as we are, we are not alone. There are others who are looking for ways to express their sorrow and their dreams for whatever might be next.
Name your grief. Seek the help you need. Remember, you are not alone. Peace be with you.
The Rev. Amanda K. Robertson is an Episcopal priest serving as Rector (head pastor) of the Church of the Good Shepherd, in York, SC. She is married to Terry Robertson, owner of Robertson Funeral and Cremation Service, in Charlotte, NC, as well as the Kings Mountain Preserve, conservation burial ground, in Blacksburg, SC. They have three sons. To connect with Rev. Robertson, email email [email protected].
Kings Mountain Preserve is a 36-acre green burial ground in Blacksburg, SC located approximately 20 minutes from Historic Kings Mountain State Park. The property boasts majestic hardwoods... Read More »