Giving Voice to Nonnite Loss and Grief in Bereavement
M ichael sat at his desk and read the words he had carefully typed. He could no longer live his life as a lie, and as much as he cared about the well-being of the people in the parish where he was the priest, he could no longer be a representative of a religious tradition that he now found to be oppressive and rigid to many of the individuals he cared about deeply. The change had occurred over a long period of time. He’d tried to ignore the inner discomfort at –rst, assuming it was just a “phase” he was going through as he reached midlife. Gradually, the discomfort turned into a painful loneliness and cynicism that robbed him of the very parts of himself that drew him to the church-compassion, a desire to serve, and a sense of divine purpose. Now, he just felt empty and tired. And he knew the cure was to leave what was once a home to him, but which now felt like a prison. From the moment this letter of resignation left his hands, his life would be forever changed … or was he already changed, and the letter just a re‹ection of what he had now become? He thought of his parents, and how hard this news would be for them. He wondered how he would survive –nancially, as a degree in theology didn’t offer much for job prospects in the secular world. Many people in his parish would feel that he betrayed them, and he would be unable to explain that he felt like he was betraying them by mouthing words that were now empty to his heart. This was not how he envisioned his life to be. None of his hopes and dreams when he was younger included the possibility of losing his faith, his community, and the support of his family and friends who were all –rmly rooted in the church’s teachings. He wondered how God would weigh in on all of this … and yet, he wasn’t even sure that he really even knew God at all now.