There is our administrative assistant, who has sustained a number of hits fairly recently; the biggest, to my knowledge, being the death of her sister last winter after a long and cancerous siege. Her job, and (most of all) the relationships it creates, have been big factors in sustaining her life.
There is one of our main volunteers, a 90-year-old woman, who found life anew as a major participant in the life of the church after she was widowed for the second time, a decade ago. At our meeting last week, she stated that her biggest fear is losing her opportunity to volunteer, to be of service.
Another 90-year-old woman, whose health has prevented her from coming to church for most of the past year. She has already lost an elderly husband, a middle-aged son, and an infant daughter. And most of her friends. Although the church of women's guild tea parties that she remembers is long gone, the disappearance of the entire enterprise is a major blow.
Another major volunteer, a woman in her fifties now off to seminary. She and at least one other member, an irrepressible older woman, are both survivors of another church closing, only a few years ago.
Our almost inexhaustible clerk of session and her mother, daughter and widow of the founding pastor. Our clerk has been here her entire life, and her mother for sixty years of hers, except for the brief period after their father and husband retired, when they went elsewhere. The extent of their loss ~ lifetimes of faithful participation and extensive contribution ~ is so vast that words fail me.
And me. I've had a few defeats of my own over the past few years. Now: an entire church.
I woke up this morning thinking of some advice I read a few years ago about taking time off from grief. Excellent advice.
I just cannot figure out when, where, and how we are supposed to carve out this time off over the next six weeks.