Living & Growing: Sorrow transformed

Laura Rorem is a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church. (Courtesy Photo)

Laura Rorem is a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church. (Courtesy Photo)

By Laura Rorem

While pondering together Henri Nouwen’s words: “Out of his solitude Jesus reached out his caring hand to the people in need. In the lonely place his care…” a sudden strange look came across my husband, Larry’s, face. He asked to lie down. In the process he forgot how to move his legs, and began grabbing for unseen things. He became non-verbal, attempted to communicate with gestures, and fell into a coma. By 7 p.m., I was informed he was dying. The following morning, as we attempted to honor his wish to die at home surrounded by family, CT scan results indicated he suffered a “brain bleed.” He would not survive a trip home. Our children arrived just in time to say “I love you” before he took his last breath. We were overwhelmed with disbelief and shock.

[Living & Growing: He died in faith]

Diagnosed with cancer and weak, Larry was admitted to the hospital two days earlier for nourishment to strengthen him for our trip to Seattle for further testing.

Four months later, protective numbness has transitioned into reality. I am wandering in an unfamiliar world. Though Larry and I taught and walked with many through bereavement, my responses surprise me.

The grief I knew when my parents died has lifted. The grief Larry and I shared at the death of our daughter, three years ago, has not. Even though many share my grief, I still find myself alone without the support and strength of my beloved soulmate. In the most unexpected moments and places, the momentousness of Larry’s death surges over me and I am face to face with unimaginable suffering.

Seeking spiritual comfort, I contemplate and embrace my sorrow. I bring my deepest needs and greatest fears into God’s compassionate love, knowing God grieves, weeps, guards my heart and mind and stays with me until the pain of my grief passes through me. Grief demands that I redefine myself. I know my sorrow will transform into greater insight, growth, peace, love and wisdom. I will move on and discover my renewed purpose in life without Larry.

As I embrace my own sorrow, my heart and mind also grieves for something greater than myself and the pain of others passes through me. Each of us carries our own burdens of grief.

People across America are experiencing an unprecedented amount of individual and collective grief with catastrophic losses brought on by COVID-19; racism; police brutality; white supremacy; hate crimes; insurrection; false narratives; increased homelessness; poverty; wealth; substance abuse; mental illness; isolation; etc. We are face to face with feelings of powerlessness from our inability to prevent the changes and losses, as we anticipate never ending crisis we cannot control.

As it says in Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”

As we mourn collectively, may we rest in God’s loving hands so our sorrow can bind us together, in one heart and mind, moving us beyond today as we gain greater insight and growth, redefining ourselves as a nation by adapting to change, finding new purpose and proclaiming God’s hope to all the world with empathy, compassion, kindness, peace and love.

For all who mourn, “…no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion. So great is His unfailing love.”–Lamentations 3:31-32

• Laura Rorem is a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church. Her new purpose is to honor Pastor Larry Rorem’s legacy of love, compassion and understanding for all humankind, especially the most vulnerable. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.

More in Neighbors

“Non-meat grillables are spendy, you know?” writes Geoff Kirsch. “I couldn’t trust either parent with Portobello mushroom steaks, let alone heirloom tomatoes and Halloumi cheese (which cost like $10 for a six-ounce block, and that’s 1992 dollars).” (Unsplash)
Slack Tide: Grillin’ like a villin’

This week’s column gets up in your grill.

teaser
Living & Growing: Sorrow transformed

By Laura Rorem While pondering together Henri Nouwen’s words: “Out of his… Continue reading

teaser
Gimme A Smile: What national day is it today?

You don’t need to wait until May 31 to smile.

Courtesy photo/Troop 11 
Scouts from BSA Troop 11 gathered and donated 562 pounds of food to the food bank at Resurrection Lutheran Church on April 17. The troop meets at the downtown church and collected food from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Scouting for Food helps stock local food pantries

Local Scouts collected more than 9,000 pounds of food

Guy Crockroft is Executive Director of Love Inc, Juneau. (Courtesy Photo)
Living & Growing: Jesus is coming back. Are you ready?

Let’s do our best to love our neighbors and be salt and light.

Web tease
Juneau students earn academic honors

Recognitions for the week of Sunday, April 18, 2021.

teaser
Foodland and Super Bear customers donate to United Way

Customers donated over $4,700 by rounding up their change at the end of each transaction.

This November 2020 photo shows a gun lock. Similar locks are available April 15-18 at Western Auto. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Business, organizations partner to offer free gun locks

Free gun locks will be available at a local business this weekend.… Continue reading

teaser
Living & Growing: Acting and reacting

We can turn the tide of conflict and division into relationships that are built on kindness.

Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist.
Slack Tide: Nobody moves to Alaska to write comedy — except me

Everyone has a “what I’m doing in Alaska” story.

Women of the Moose volunteers pose with the Easter Baskets that they put together for the children at the AWARE shelter. Each basket was made specific to each child’s age, said Jaime Isaak in an email. “A lot of happy children,” Isaak said. (Courtesy Photo / Jaime Isaak)
Women of the Moose hop to it

Volunteers made Easter baskets for children at local shelter.

Donna Leigh (Courtesy Photo)
Living & Growing: Let us choose to be grateful

May our spring be full of gratitude.