When we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. ~ Wendall Berry

As we edge into autumn, Dominican Center Marywood — in collaboration with six area hospices, Kaufman Interfaith Institute, Michigan Humanists, and the Grand Rapids area Baha’i community — is poised to host its 8th annual remembering ceremony, We Remember Interfaith Memorial Service, on the Aquinas College campus on Tuesday, September 13, 6:30-8:00 pm.

This event is free of charge and open to the public. Spiritual practices and contemplative activities include opportunities for kite flying and a luminary walk. To conclude the evening, the labyrinth will be available inside Dominican Center Marywood to assist participants in personal introspection and integration.

In remembering, we honor and dignify the lives and memories of our loved ones. We remember the many ways they remain alive in our hearts. It is helpful to acknowledge the people we have lost, name them, and recognize their time on earth with ritual. The interfaith memorial service is an inclusive evening dedicated to remembering activities and personal reflection.

Alongside the We Remember Interfaith Memorial Service in September, you are invited to continue your healing journey at Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College in October. Please join us for the in-person grief retreat, A Bottle Full of Tears ~ Moving Through Grief, facilitated by Rev. Debbie Eisenbise, a spiritual director who specializes in end-of-life-doula work. Using transformative practices and reflective pauses and movement for integration, you will be guided to honor ways we might be worked by loss, learn from it, and love ourselves through it.

Both of these upcoming explorative experiences are opportunities to honor and acknowledge the gift of grief as a completion of a connection we will never forget.

Lighting Candles | We Remember: Journeys of Hope ~ Interfaith Memorial Service (In-Person) | Dominican Center Marywood, Grand Rapids, MIGrief is the intense emotional response to the pain of loss. It is a connection that has been broken. Most importantly, grief is an emotional, spiritual, and psychological journey to healing. We transform and transcend our losses as we feel our emotions and express them in ways that feel safe, sacred, and intimate.

Many challenges in our lives stem from grief unresolved and unhealed. When we do not work through our grief, we lose an opportunity to heal our soul, psyche, and heart. Grief is the healing process of the heart, soul, and mind. It is the path that offers us a path to wholeness and peace.

The length and time needed to mourn is different for everyone. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross identified the five stages of grief as denial, depression, bargaining, anger, and acceptance. There is no predictable schedule, and progression through the stages of grief are not necessarily orderly, nor does everyone experience all of the stages. We do travel through grief in stages and it is hoped we are able to come to a place of peace-filled acceptance where grief can not only be transformed, but transcended.

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not attempt to do so. For the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled, one remains connected to the other person through it. God does not fill the emptiness but precisely leaves it unfilled and thus helps us preserve even in pain the authentic relationship. But gratitude transforms the memory of torment into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within. A hidden treasure of which one can always be certain."

Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College is a ministry of Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.