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What is Normal in Grief

by Vicar Lisa

I am in the process of completing my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) supervised work. This requires a total of 300 hours of combined class time, reading time, supervisory time, and a minimum of 50 hours of face-to-face pastoral care. I am completing my face-to-face time with the Sangre de Christi Hospice.

For the course, we were asked to read and do a review on a book to “sharpen our growing edges”. I selected a book that was recommended to me entitled Grieving with Hope: Finding Comfort as You Journey Through Loss, by Samuel Hodges and Kathy Leonard. And it seemed appropriate for so many reasons.

The book states that every situation of grieving is different because of our relationships, our backgrounds, the way we process things, and the dynamics between us and the one we lost. However, the book did suggest that although everyone grieves differently, there are some similarities of thoughts and emotions we share as we grieve.

First is depression: It is one of the most common reactions to the death of a loved one. Low energy, fatigue, trouble sleeping, difficulty making decisions and feelings of hopelessness. They suggest that you talk to a medical professional if this drags on.

Second is feeling like you are losing your mind: You can’t concentrate or make simple decisions, or you lose track of time. Your memories may play tricks on you, and you may think you remember something but then you wonder, “Did it really actually happen?” They advise scaling back on how much you are trying to do because your body is telling you that you need more time before going full speed again. Don’t get frustrated with yourself.

Third on the list is having feelings of denial: Denial helps you portion out your pain to a degree that you can handle at the moment, and it is natural and helpful. But, as you might expect, ongoing denial can become a problem. You then deny that you are hurting and don’t allow yourself to accept help from others.

Fourth are developing physical problems: You may be more susceptible to colds and viruses, have heart palpitations, dizziness or nausea or headaches. Make sure you rule out any symptoms with your physician but consider that grief may be a contributing factor. Eat healthy food, drink lots of water, and make it a point to get some exercise.

Fifth is a feeling of relief, especially if your loved one has experienced a long illness: You are glad that they are no longer suffering and yet you are still angry that death came despite all you did to care.

Sixth, you may be a tangled ball of emotions: You may experience a variety of intense, unpredictable emotions all intertwined. Anguish, anger, loneliness, regret, guilt, apathy fear and so on. Sometimes your emotions feel so tangled up that you are not even sure what you are feeling. Again, you are not losing your mind. Accept that your emotions are a tangled ball and that is to be expected. “Let the feelings expose the questions of your soul so you know exactly what you need to bring to the Lord.”

Seventh is spiritual dryness: Some people turn to the Lord during their grief, others have no desire for prayer, Bible reading or church. If that is how you feel, tell it to the Lord and ask for a desire to bring you back so you can heal.

Eighth is to be prepared for emotional ambushes: Although many of us are familiar with the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross about the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), more recent studies indicate that you will jump back and forth between stages. You may be well into the grieving process and think that you are doing fine when an emotion hits and it feels as strong as it did in those first few weeks. Intense emotions can be triggered by certain memories, events, smells, and sounds. This is called being ambushed by grief. It is okay to cry a little bit and then move on.

This chapter concludes with a word of encouragement. No matter how long it seems that you have been grieving, you will make it through. Or, as Pastor Carrie said as she led us in worship after Pastor Andrea’s passing, “There will be joy.  It will be okay.” She knows because she lived through it as many of us have. And I have been repeating that mantra over and over to myself as well these last few weeks. “There will be joy. It will be okay.” Amen.

Serving This Sunday, Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

10 a.m. Worship, Sunday, Nov. 19

Flowers – Flowers are from the 5-Loaves team in appreciation of Norine and everything she does for our food ministry, especially at Thanksgiving time!


  • Turkey Fry Day -- Saturday Nov. 18 is Fry-Day for Thanksgiving Turkeys. As of today (Wednesday, Nov. 15), we have 16 turkeys and would like to have 35. Can you donate a turkey? A 16–18-pound turkey is recommended for frying. We also need volunteers to cut up the cooked turkeys. The first batch of eight cooked and cooled turkeys should be ready to carve around 10 a.m. We will be cooking all day -- until around 4 p.m. If you have any spare time on Saturday, join us for a while in the fellowship hall. Bring your favorite knife, and we also have electric ones available. (Nano & Nana's Rigatoni will be served for lunch).
  • Setting Up the Hall: We need help on Wednesday, Nov. 22 to set up the fellowship hall, slice the ham and bag buns. Work will start at 3 p.m. We also need delivery drivers for Thursday morning Thanksgiving Day). Sign-up sheets will be in the fellowship hall or just show up!!
  • Donations Needed: Monetary donations are helpful and can be given electronically through Zion’s donation website via the Tithely portal. Checks can be written to Zion’s Lutheran with a note in the memo line “Thanksgiving” and mailed to the church or placed in the offering plate. Time and food donations also are needed. Please reach out to Norine Hazen to volunteer time, to make an in-kind donation, or to request someone to pick up your monetary donation.
  • Congregational Meeting: Our constitution requires that we give at least 30 days’ notice prior to a vote to amend the constitution or change the by-laws. This gives the voting members ample time to review the proposed changes and comment. We had to cancel worship and our congregation meeting on Sunday, Oct. 29, due to the weather. You will receive another revised constitution and by-laws document sometime during the week of Nov. 13-19 and we plan to reschedule the congregation meeting to vote on the changes for Dec. 17. Please contact Julie if you have any questions.
  • Coat Drive: We have extended the deadline for collecting coats and warm clothes, and socks for those in need. Please bring to the fellowship hall.

E-formation – Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Nov. 19, 2023

On the second-to-the-last Sunday of the church year the readings continue to proclaim God’s call to righteous living. From the word and sacraments, we receive the salvation that God wills for us.

Matthew 25:14-30

The English word “talent” meaning a person’s natural ability arose in the fifteenth century as preachers allegorized this parable, applying the Roman coins to individual capabilities. A common use of this parable is to stress what Lutherans call “law”: we are obligated to use our talents to the best of our ability, or the punishment of hell awaits us. The parable also proclaims what Lutherans call “gospel”: all good comes from God, who provides us far more than we need, God’s grace given in abundance for our use.

Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18

Because Matthew’s gospel uses money as a symbol for one’s life, the passage from Zephaniah was chosen for its condemnation of misuse of money. Trusting in wealth, which is a particularly American temptation, is shown to be the dead end that it is.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

On this Sunday, it is especially in this second reading that God’s good news is proclaimed. It is God’s will to save and to keep us in light, so that we may live with Christ. The Christian community shares with one another this encouraging word. Early Christians spoke of baptism as the light within and by which we live; thus, we need not fear a life walking “like the blind” (Zeph.1:17).

Zion's Lutheran Church