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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

18 September 2013: David Bee, St Mary's Buriton

Coping with bereavement

As I write I am preparing to sing in a concert which will include Herbert Howells' Requiem. It is a wonderful piece, written in 1935, after Howells' son died, aged 9, from acute Polio. It was tremendously personal to Howells. He did not allow it to be performed for many years. It was his way of trying to come to terms with his loss. All of us will suffer loss and deep sadness at times in our lives. Those we love will die. It is a natural part of living. How do we cope with it?

Most of us cope quite well. We acknowledge that it's OK to be sad, to cry; we use the family and friends we have to support us; we make sure we eat properly and get enough rest; we use our GP and other support services if we feel we are not coping. Over a period of time, often more than a year, the grief slowly becomes manageable; we get on with our lives.

Others find the process much more difficult; they bottle up their grief; they think it's their fault they can't manage; they may turn to alcohol; they become locked into suffering.
So what can faith do to help? Firstly it can help people accept that it's OK to cry; Jesus cried when his friend Lazarus died. Secondly faith communities can provide supportive environments for those who are grieving. Thirdly faith teaches us that, whatever we are going through, Jesus understands. He will never leave us. He always loves and cares and wants the best for us.

As St. Paul says: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Romans 8:38,39

This article was submitted for publication in the Petersfield Post on 18 September; it is possible that it was published earlier or may be published later.

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