Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Good Grief

In a New York Times opnion column, author Amitai Etzioni talks of how others kept butting in to let him know he and his children were grieving wrongly over the death of his wife. He writes that, "We felt angry; the proper first stage, [the school psycologist] said, is denial."

Later he gave his wife's eulogy saying,
In my eulogy I divulged that I believe in a God who brings meaning to the world, but that my belief has been severely tested. Frank's photo of a cemetery angel in griefI missed seeing God in the killing fields of Cambodia, and he seems too busy to show up in Darfur, or to shine his face on either the Sunnis or the Shiites in Iraq. With a rising voice, I asked: How could God allow a son to be taken from his aging, ailing father? A devoted husband to be torn from the arms of his loving wife in the middle of the night? How could he allow a 2-year-old to be left searching for his father in vain, or deny an infant the chance to see the father even once?

After I shared a copy of my eulogy with a philosopher friend in Washington, he took me for a walk in the woods. “You must know,” he lectured, “that God is not a micromanager. He does not dish out specific goods or condone specific evils. He leaves these acts — and the choices involved — to us. If the good and bad were given to us, we would not be choosing, moral creatures.”
He felt frustrated that everyone seemed to know the stages of grief and where he was supposed to be and what he should be feeling. The full test of the column is here: Good Grief.

Is there a right way to grieve and therefore a wrong one? How can we assist those experiencing loss? Or if you are in the midst of grief now, how could someone help you?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church


  • At 10/10/2006 3:17 PM, Blogger Peregrinato said…

    Finally, I emerge from lurking.

    There are no real "stages of grief". The famous "DABDA" (denial, anger, bargaining, depresseion, acceptance) was useful in a first approach at conceptualizing the reactions of a dying patient to their own imminent mortality. This was groundbreaking in 1969. However, too many general clinicians are stuck in that model, and many grief therapists no longer use that formulation. Clinicians really need to keeup up with the professional literature, which discusses many different responses to grief, many of them healthy variants, and seen in terms of reconstructive tasks and not prescriptive phases ("thou shalt deny.") In practice I can tell you that the "stages of grief" are more harfmul than helpful, particularly as people try to figure out where they are on a limited 5 point model. There are other, better models that can be used. Please, never ever use Kubler-Ross. We can respect her work as ground-breaking, but then we move on!

  • At 10/10/2006 5:11 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Peregrinato failed to mention a thoughtful post on an alternative way of looking at the grieving procees in a more active way. It at here: Mourning is hard work.

    And welcome out of lurking status Perigrinato!


  • At 10/10/2006 5:45 PM, Blogger Peregrinato said…

    I confess, it was your posting (and a recent reference in a TV show) that compelled me to find the original piece I'd done, dust it off, and post it on my blog! Thank you for the reference!


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