On Grief, Gratitude, and Whether to Take Your Suit to the Hospital

Today, I am honored to share a story I wrote about friendship, mourning, and thanksgiving over at a wonderful blog called Confessions of a Funeral Director. You can read the first part here:

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Finding a Context for Grief

karen“Jason, listen. I think I found a lump.” Karen’s eyes were full of gentle severity. “But hey, we’re okay. We’re gonna get through this. It isn’t our first rodeo.”

Karen was too young for cancer—just thirty four—and full of life. She and her husband George had been my friends for nine years, and part of my family for the last five. They were missionaries, planning to launch out to the South Pacific to eventually start an AIDS orphanage. And after countless encouragements, they believed with all their hearts that she would be healed. After all, she had beat cancer before when she was seventeen, and again (we thought) at thirty-two. That’s why she was so confident.

So they entered the rodeo a third time, pursuing all kinds of treatments; the ones that come from sober doctors in white hospitals, and the other ones from enthusiastic Americans with juicers in Mexico. They got prayer. Lots of prayer, from reserved, gray bearded conservatives, and from young mustached mystics who claimed they saw miracles happen every day.

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