Grief and Grieving

Fudge, Divinity, and Mom

Posted in Grief and Grieving, Personal on December 22nd, 2009 by Jim Hughes – 3 Comments

As I walked out into the lobby, there on a table full of Christmas goodies was a big plate of fudge.

Suddenly I was flooded with memories of Christmases with similar plates filled with fudge and divinity.

Mom always fixed both. The fudge was relatively easy. The divinity was tricky. But for her, and I think for others of her generation, making candy was part of the extravagance of celebrating Christmas. My mother-in-law always seems to do the same. Maybe it came from growing up in the depression, where such things were luxuries, where meat was only part of a meal once a week. My wife and daughter-in-law from time to time continue the tradition.

I hadn’t realized that it’s been missing in recent years until I saw the plate. Mom’s been gone almost seven years, and Reba has been coming for Christmas at our house for the last several years, although she sometimes brings candy.

Maybe I need to see if I can whip up some fudge and/or divinity this year. Everyone will be here, and there are some new generations that need to experience having some homemade candy sitting around — and to hear stories about grandmothers and great grandmothers who showed extravagance through making homemade candy.

Pausing to Remember

Posted in Grief and Grieving on December 21st, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

We had our annual Service of Remembrance yesterday afternoon.

Service of RemembranceA Service of Remembrance is something our church has done for lots of years on the Sunday before Christmas. It gives us an opportunity to come together and say out loud that there are dear people from our lives that are missing as we celebrate the holidays. Some of those we have lost died this year, and our pain is still intense. Some passed years ago, but there is still a hole in our hearts that can’t be filled.

The service itself is simple. We sing a few songs together, we listen to some other songs. We pray a prayer of remembrance together. We have responsive readings of scripture that emphasizes the hope we share. And the central part of the service is the lighting of the candle of remembrance, after which each person takes turns coming to the front of the chapel and naming the person or persons they’re remembering this year.

We recognize and remember that the reason for the season, the first coming of Jesus, provides the hope of our being reunited with those who have gone before.

After the service, we hang around, sharing some seasonal refreshments, some hugs, and some stories. We are bound together by our feelings of loss and hope.

It’s an emotional time, but amazingly healing. It’s an important time for many of us.

May you be blessed with wonderful memories, reassuring hope, and wonderful friends this Christmas season!

Helpful Thoughts on Here and Now and Holding vs. Clinging

Posted in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, Grief and Grieving, hope on December 4th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – 1 Comment


My friend Virgil Fry, Executive Director of Lifeline Chaplaincy, wrote a really good post on here and now this week. I especially found his words about holding those we love vs. clinging to those we love helpful.

I hope you enjoy it!

“Grief is like telephone poles.”

Posted in Grief and Grieving on December 3rd, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

Sometimes a metaphor can help us understand. I liked this one. Click hereFall Color to read this short post, “Grief is like telephone poles!” It wasn’t what I expected.

Note: the photo has nothing to do with the post, but I thought you might enjoy seeing what Fall looks like in Houston this year.

Suicide: One Month Later (Pt. 4)

Posted in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, Grief and Grieving, suicide on September 11th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – 1 Comment

This final “One Month Later” segment has some very practical things for us not to do in reaching out to the family of a suicide victim. Thanks again to our anonymous writer for her clear words that can be so helpful to us in wanting to help people like her.

Please be mindful of the things you say or ask, when my children are present. They don’t always need to hear all of the facts. If you want me to be honest, don’t ask sensitive questions in front of my children. I may have to give you a false answer for their sake.

Please don’t share your views concerning my spouse’s final destination. You are not God. It causes even more heartache for me when you imply that he will pay for eternity for his choices. I still care about him.

Please don’t tell me that the death of my spouse has somehow made your life better in some way – by causing a positive change to occur, for example. Not yet. I’m happy that it has worked out that way for you, but I’m not ready to hear it – my life is falling apart. As wrong as it sounds, it is too early for me to hear how his death has made things better for you.

Forgive me when I seem cold ,or angry, or indifferent. My emotions change quickly. I can’t always identify them myself or understand them either. All I know is that sometimes I feel hurt, anger, sadness, confusion or nothing at all.

I feel hurt that we weren’t enough to keep him here. I feel hurt because I can’t erase the pain that my children feel.

I don’t expect you to have the “right” words to say. I don’t know the right words to say either. I am thankful for your effort and your willingness to try. Try not to avoid us. It’s noticeable… even when you don’t realize it.

If you have a good memory or a funny story about something he did, share it with us. If you have a picture of him, we’d love to see it. We still talk about him. Add to our memory bank.

We are just trying to survive suicide. We are going through the motions right now. We are surviving day by day. Sometimes hour by hour, moment by moment. Be patient with us.