Accompanying One Another on Our Grief Journeys


Compiled by Sparrow book discussion group

A group of Grace Church folks met earlier this fall to discuss Jan Richardson's memoir,  Sparrow: A Book of Life and Death and Life.  The sense of community that formed as we shared and reflected on our own losses was precious.  We hope you find solace and a feeling of accompaniment in these offerings.

Prayer from the Jewish Prayer Book 

Offered by Donna Greenawalt 

To this sacred time I come, drawn by the eternal ties that bind my soul to the soul of my beloved. Death has separated us. You are no longer at my side to share the beauty of the passing moment. I cannot look to you to lighten my burdens, to lend me your strength, your wisdom, your faith. And yet what you mean to me does not wither or fade. For a time we touched hands and hearts:  still your voice abides with me, still your tender glance remains a  joy to me. For you are part of me forever; something of you has  become a deathless song upon my lips. And so beyond the ache that tells how much I miss you, a deeper thought compels; we were together. I hold you still in mind, and give thanks for life and love.  The happiness that was, the memories that do not fade, are a gift  that cannot be lost. You continue to bless my days and years. I will always give thanks for you.

Excerpt from “At the River Clarion” by Mary Oliver

Offered by Judy Williams

There was someone I loved who grew old and ill. 

One by one I watched the fires go out. 

There was nothing I could do 

except to remember 

that we receive 

then we give back.

Excerpt from “The House of Belonging” by David Whyte
Offered by Judy Williams

This is the bright home 

in which I live, 

this is where 

I ask 

my friends 

to come, 

this is where I want 

to love all the things 

it has taken me so long 

to learn to love. 

This is the temple 

of my adult aloneness 

and I belong to that aloneness 

as I belong to my life. 

There is no house 

like the house of belonging.


Note from Vicki 

Offered by Tom Verghese 

A Continuing Conversation with Vicki 

Offered by Tom Varghese 

Since Vicki passed away, I’ve been struck by what people have told me about what she did and how she affected them. Their words have given me greater insight about Vicki, which has amazed me after having been married to her for 34 years. But in a way,  through their words, I feel like Vicki is still communicating with me. This parallels the words written by the poet Rumi many years ago: 

Your body is away from me 

but there is a window open 

from my heart to yours. 

From this window, like the moon 

I keep sending news secretly.

She Has Become Her Admirers 

Offered by Tom Varghese 

This period following Vicki's death is turning into a period of discovery and renewal for  me. Through the poetry and writings she left behind, I'm gaining a better understanding  of her soul. I'm also having daily conversations with God, to understand how my life will  be different as a result of knowing Vicki. Indeed, I’ve resolved to live my life in a kind  and generous way, as Vicki had. That will be my way to honor her and continue feeling  her presence. Paraphrasing W. H. Auden (from In Memory of W. B. Yeats, 1939): 

But for [her] it was [her] last afternoon as [herself], 

An afternoon of nurses and rumours; 

The provinces of [her] body revolted, 

The squares of [her] mind were empty, 

Silence invaded the suburbs, 

The current of [her] feeling failed; [she] became [her] admirers. 

Life Is Eternal, Love Is Immortal 

Offered by Tom Varghese 

Two days after Vicki passed away, I received the following Rossiter Raymond quote. It  reassured me that her death was not the end. 

Life is eternal 

And love is immortal 

And death is only a horizon 

Save the limit of our sight.

A Devotional by St. Francis de Sales 

Offered by Fran Moen 

Be at peace ~ 

 Do not fear the changes of life ~ 

 Rather look to them with full hope 

 As they arise ~ 

 God, whose very own you are, 

 Will deliver you from out of them. 

 He has kept you hitherto, 

 And he will lead you safely  

 Through all things; 

 And when you cannot stand it, 

 God will bury you in his arms. 

 Do not be afraid of what may happen tomorrow; 

 The same everlasting Father 

 Who cares for you today 

 Will take care of you then and every day. 

 He will either shield you from suffering, 

 Or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. 

 Be at peace ~ 

 And put aside all anxious thoughts 

 And imaginations. 


 ~ St. Francis de Sales  1527-1622 

In 1923, Pope Pius claimed him a patron of writers and journalists because  he made extensive use of broadsheets and books both in spiritual direction  and in his efforts to convert the Calvinists of the region. Francis developed  a sign language in order to teach a deaf man about God. Because of this, he  is also the patron saint of the deaf. 

"About Angels and About Trees" by Mary Oliver 

Offered by Florrie Munat

Where do angels  

 fly in the firmament, 

and how many can dance 

 on the head of a pin? 

Well, I don’t care 

 about that pin dance, 

what I know is that 

 they rest, sometimes, 

in the tops of the trees 

and you can see them, 

 or almost see them, 

or, anyway, think: what a 

 wonderful idea. 

I have lost as you and 

 others have possibly lost a 

beloved one, 

 and wonder, where are they now? 

The trees, anyway, are 

 miraculous, full of 

angels (ideas); even 

 empty they are a  

good place to look, to put 

 the heart at rest—all those 

leaves breathing the air, so 

peaceful and diligent, and certainly 

 ready to be 

the resting place of 

 strange, winged creatures 

that we, in this world, have loved. 

“For Those Who Have Died” by Judah Halevi or Emanuel of Rome
Offered by Florrie Munat

‘Tis a fearful thing 

To love 

What death can touch. 

To love, to hope, to dream, 

And oh, to lose. 

A thing for fools, this, 


But a holy thing, 

To love what death can touch. 

For your life has lived in me; 

Your laugh once lifted me; 

Your word was a gift to me. 

To remember this brings painful joy. 

‘Tis a human thing, love, 

A holy thing, 

To love 

What death can touch. 

A Blessing by Kim Cockroft 

May you experience 

the grace of lying fallow, ploughed deep by loss, 

receiving rain and sun, the attention of birds 

and the embrace of wind 

until your spirit yields growth, 

gifts for yourself and the world. 

May you find times of gathering, 

of the voices and solid touch of others, 

even as you hollow spaces of holy solitude 

and ritual to reunite you with your loved one. 

May you work toward the Great Mystery, 

wrapped in a eucharist of words and presence, 

clothed in the strength of love

Websites and Podcasts: 

Grief Dialogues 


Grief Dialogues, an artistic movement, offers a safe space, a compassionate, empathetic environment, to share our honest stories of death and grief. Website has podcasts. 

What’s Your Grief 

Our mission is to promote grief education, exploration, and expression in both practical  and creative ways. We achieve this mission by providing: 

Resources related to understanding and coping with grief and loss Guidance on how to help a grieving friend or family member 

Online courses about grief and supporting someone who’s grieving Resources, education, and training for grief counselors, grief volunteers, and other  professionals working in fields related to grief and loss. 

A podcast about grief 

A supportive community 

Everything Happens | With Kate Bowler 

“How to Grieve Well,” “The Magic of WE,” and others 

Life isn’t always bright and shiny, as Kate Bowler knows. Kate is a young mother, writer  and professor who, at age 35, was suddenly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. In warm,  insightful, often funny conversations, Kate talks with people about what they’ve learned  in dark times. 

David Whyte offers online series on mindfulness, invitation to a  beautiful mind, poetry, and more 

Offered by Kate Kinney

Book Suggestions 

From Judy Williams: 

It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t  Understand (2017) by Megan Devine 

Song for Sarah: A Mother’s Journey Through Grief and Beyond (2009) by Paula D’Arcy Here If You Need Me: A True Story (2008) by Kate Braestrup 

From Florrie Munat:  

The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) by Joan Didion 

Just a Little More Time: 56 Authors on Love and Loss (2017) 

Grief Dialogues: Stories on Love and Loss, 61 Authors (2018) 

A Grief Observed (1960) by C.S. Lewis 

From Fran Moen: 

The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief (2015) by  Francis Weller 

The Way of Transition: Embracing Life’s Most Difficult Moments (2001) by William  Bridges 

The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief (2020) by Jan Richardson 

From Lynn Sinclair: 

A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times (2014) by Jack  Kornfield 

From Tom Varghese: 

H Is for Hawk (2016) by Helen Macdonald 

Movie Suggestions 

From Florrie Munat: 

Shadowlands (1993, Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger) 

C.S. Lewis, a world-renowned Christian theologian, writer and professor, leads a  passionless life until he meets spirited poet Joy Gresham from the U.S. 

Philadelphia (1993, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Antonio Banderas) 

When a man with HIV is fired by his law firm because his condition, he hires a  homophobic lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit. 

The Descendants (2011, George Clooney, Shailene Woodley) 

A Honolulu lawyer tries to reconnect with his two young daughters after his wife is  hospitalized in a coma after a boating accident. 

About Schmidt (2002, Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates) 

A recently retired widower embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's  wedding, only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.