Use Rituals to Ease the Anguish of Loss

Artwork by: Wayne Brezinka

Experts and survivors agree—use rituals to ease the anguish of loss. Then practice acts of love to move forward toward a sense of peace.Near midnight on Good Friday, 1990, just hours after Jenard and Gail Gross had arrived in Lyford Cay, Bahamas, the phone rang. Jenard answered groggily. Then, after listening for just a few moments, he fainted.Gail tentatively took the receiver. “Is this Mrs. Gross?” asked a male voice.“Yes.”“Is Dawn Gross your daughter?”Even before he spoke the words that came next, Gail knew.The room began to spin. The coroner was saying Dawn had died in her sleep. Gail slid to the floor.The rest of the week, she says, is a blur of emotion and pockets of memory. The couple boarded a plane that night, flew to Nashville, Tennessee, to meet their son at Vanderbilt University, where he was a student. Then the family traveled together to Los Angeles—and the morgue.“We cried the whole time, on the plane,” Gross said.The family would later learn that Dawn, who’d been treated for mono-nucleosis after complaining of fatigue for months, died of an undiagnosed viral infection that had spread to …

Previously published as "Out of Grieving, Grace" in Spirituality & Health Nov/Dec 2013

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