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Many of us, in fact, most of us, have suffered from the loss of someone who is dear to us. The sheer scale of the pain of losing a loved one strains our most vivid imagination of how pain feels. Grappling with the death of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or sibling is awful and gut-wrenching and while it is a common human experience, it feels extraordinarily otherworldly.

To survive the aftermath once death comes knocking means that, first, there must be an aftermath.  That’s the catch: survivors can get caught up in guilt, looping denials and what-ifs. The grief often takes control, smashing against us in punishing, destabilizing waves and then tugging at us like a riptide. While the effects of grief are frequently hidden and therefore invisible to the outside world, the internal struggle is all too real. And, of course, the mad expectation from many around us complicates all of this confusion that we need to get on with life.

Juxtaposed with those urging us to move forward is our own instinctual impulse to hold onto our loved ones by holding onto all of the memories. What do we do: move forward or live in our past via our memories?

Andrea Raynor, the author of The Alphabet of Grief, uses the letters of the alphabet to discuss the profoundly consoling nature and importance of remembering when it’s punctuated by a strong sense of faith. This little book packs a powerful punch and I sincerely recommend it as a thought-provoking treasure. Essentially, Ms. Raynor concludes that it’s not a matter of either/or. We move through our grief comforted by our memories. On Saturday, December 10 at 4:00 PM, we are fortunate to have Andrea Raynor officiate at our Christmas Remembrance Service in our Lakeside Chapel. In addition to authoring several books, Ms. Raynor is a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School and a United Methodist minister in Rye, New York. She is also a native of Colerain with deep roots in the Cincinnati area. She is a gifted speaker and a powerful messenger of faith and hope and light. If you attend this service, you can expect to experience a wonderful message of the healing potential of remembering. Our Christmas Remembrance Service is a distinctly reflective opportunity to use the act of remembering to assist you during the Holiday season. Find more information on the Remembrance Service.