, Newburyport, MA

August 24, 2013

During times of grief, turn to others

In the Spirit
The Rev. Aram T. Marashlian

---- — On April 12, death parted my wife and I as our vows predicted. Sonya and I spent 52 great years together. I know she is in a better place for the Scriptures tell us in the Gospel of John chapter 14 that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us and when the time of death comes He will come and take us there Himself. So I know by faith that she is in Heaven. Also, I know that the Lord is with me in this time of grief, yet I feel alone. The Lord does provide for us family and friends to love and support us. Our friends in our respective places of worship support and sustain us as well.

Some may provide meals and others come and visit or they will call to hear how I am doing. Most importantly we all need this human contact during our time of grieving. Grieving is not something that has an ending when it begins. Grief continues through our lives; it gradually eases up depending upon our own individual makeup spiritually, mentally, and physically. No one can set a time limit on it. Some people will take longer than others and for others the grief may remain intense for a long time depending upon the kind of relationship that they had with their respective spouse. I know that I am getting to do more each day and that the pain of losing Sonya is easing up.

Does that mean that I no longer am grieving? Certainly not, for I have days when something small will bring back a flood of memories of joy and of the things we did together. Those memories are good ones especially when I learned Sonya was pregnant and that we were going to have a baby in eight months or so. We had a baby girl who we named after Sonya’s Aunt Julie who meant a lot to the both of us. She helped us out, as did most of our two families, when we got married June 18, 1960. Sonya and I, as parents, raised our daughter Julie the best we knew how. It was a joy to watch her grow from a child to a woman. We helped in her education as best as we could through public school, college, and graduate school. Sonya helped Julie by giving her the advice that only mothers can.

During Julie’s growing up years, we did many things families do — family trips, camping during summer vacations, and visits with our families and friends. There have been many other memories, as well, when Julie got married and later had two children: first Rachel, and later, Charlie. So all the memories we experienced together continue to come back. Not all of our family times were joyous, we had our share of not-so-happy times. Times when finances were tight or we lost family members.

Clergy families are not exempt from pain or tragedy. Thus some of the not-so-good memories are included; however, I try to remember the good times that Sonya and I shared.

During our times of grief we may need some help; it is not wrong to ask for it from family, friends, and clergy, counselors who specialize in grief counseling or even a psychiatrist. None of us have to go through the heavy times of grief alone. Personally, I call upon my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to give me my daily strength to continue to live the life that He has given me and He helps me from being discouraged and depressed. My Lord wants me to live life to the fullest and to continue to minister to His people that need it. For Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The Reverend Aram T. Marashlian is the chaplain emeritus for the Newburyport Fire Department.