I mentioned in my previous (and now very old) post that there has been a lot of sadness surrounding people I’m in contact with at work.  As the last couple of weeks have gone by this hasn’t lessened, and I’ve found myself more and more entwined with some of those people at the centre of it.

A colleague lost her much-awaited baby to pre-eclampsia just a few weeks before she was due to give birth and the grief we all are feeling for her is too huge for words just now.  She speaks English as a second language and to read her faltering and heartbroken words as she wrote in a card to us all was an agonising taste of what she and her boyfriend are tryng to come to terms with just now.  Another friend who uses the centre where I work to improve her English lost her dad two weekends ago.  She came back to our centre for the first time this week and, again, to feel the waves of grief and pain flowing from her was almost unbearable.  I wept with her and hugged her and felt so inadequate in the face of her suffering.  She is also friends with the colleague who lost her baby, and this fresh grief she faced when hearing the news of the baby’s death was heartrending.  However, I suspect that they will find support and fellowship in each other which will be more helpful than what they might find elsewhere.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted…

Then on Wednesday night we had invited our small group round for a take-away from the excellent ‘Bombay Feast’ near our house.  Not everyone was around, but we had a lovely night.  I was feeling tired after having a busy wee while at work, and sad after contemplating the pain of my friends at work.  What a welcome relief it was to have the simple pleasure of choosing good food to share with good friends (new and old).  What a pleasure to share laughter, anecdotes and ideas. 

Our good friend Keith is a minister and one of the aspects of his job that I have always thought must be so hard is standing alongside people in their grief and loss, often with relentless frequency.  God, I realise now, must gift him and others like him to perform that particular ministry, because it is no ordinary human skill to be able to do so without, as I seem to be, becoming overwhelmed with the grief yourself.  Or maybe it’s just something the rest of us insulate ourselves from.  Either way, I have been grateful for the moments of normality and this Wednesday evening in particular.

Rowan Williams has some interesting things to say about suffering (and Dostoevsky) in this interview, printed in the Guardian yesterday.

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