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Grief Transformed

Tara Edelschick was raised in a home that was loving, loud, and fun, but an undercurrent of anxiety coursed through it all. The world was seen as a scary place. Tara said, “The message of my childhood was clear and insistent: Work, play, and love hard. Stay in control at all times, because something scary is waiting to take you down. I heeded that message into adulthood.”

She went to a great college, found the perfect job, and chose a wonderful husband. She thought to herself, “Weaker souls might need a god, but I needed no such crutch. I can orchestrate the perfect life. But that belief was obliterated when my husband, Scott, died from complications during a routine surgery. Ten days later, I delivered our first child, Sarah, stillborn.”

During the next year, she began a search for God. She visited psychics, read New Age thinkers, and attended meditation classes. Her forays into faith were attempts to make sense of what had happened to her and to control a world in which she had far less control than she thought she had.

Then she started reading the Book of John with a friend. Tony was the only Christian she knew who didn’t try to explain away the loss of her husband and baby. He said that if she would just read the Bible, God would do the convincing. So, they read the Bible together over the phone on Saturday mornings.

Tara writes,

I especially loved the story of (Jesus and) Lazarus. Unlike the Eastern philosophies that maintain that suffering is the result of our attachments, this story was about a man who was unashamedly attached. A man who behaved as though death was not natural. As though everything was broken, and that the sane response was to snort and weep. I loved that man.

After months of reading the Bible, Tara had to admit what she had fought so long to resist: She was hungry for Jesus. For the Jesus who hung out with whores, who wept when his friend died, and who claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. She said, “All of my searching for something in which to place my faith … led me to God who offered me himself in the form of Jesus. I didn’t have to find him or explain him; I just had to say yes.”

After that, Tara returned to school to study childhood bereavement. She married a wonderful man, and they had two beautiful sons. After getting married, she facilitated a support group for surviving parents whose spouse had died, and taught a class at Harvard on bereavement. She often found herself the repository for stories of loss, told in lowered voices at parties and grocery stores.

She says,

I try to listen deeply as people share those stories, nodding in agreement with how awful it is. I bear their story and, in so doing, remind them that they are not alone. These days when I sit with the broken and mourning, I pray for God’s love to do what I cannot: to bind up the wounded places, leaving their scars to bear witness of the power of both loss and love.

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