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Time Machine: Church Tour Reconnects Daughter to Father

Have you ever felt like a social misfit? The feeling was never greater for me than at the mega church I attended in junior high school. But I’d put that out of my mind until this past weekend.

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The youth assembly room as it looks today. It is in an unused part of the church site.

I dressed for comfort and convenience, not for style and statement. I wore my hair straight and tucked behind my ears, though big ‘80s ‘dos were in. I lived in a double-wide trailer across the state line in rural Mississippi, and I went to a public school, not a private one.

My peers at the Memphis church wore alligators over their hearts, braces on their teeth and pennies in their loafers. My parents couldn’t afford those things. So I never asked for them.

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Grief: A Doorway to God?

What is the good of grief? Is there anything we can snatch from the jaws of death? Or is it a final defeat – senseless, purposeless and meaningless?

My mother died eight years ago today. I remember feeling the sense of total defeat for her. I was still alive. I might rise from the ashes of my grief and find joy again. But she was dead.ToniDoor

My feelings contradicted my spiritual beliefs. I believed my mom was in heaven and in the presence of God. But I live in a tangible world. I could not see where she was or how she was.

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The Healing Properties of Being a Child Again

I dreamed I was a child again, playing with my toys. I feel like a child a lot when I grieve. I even cry out for my “mommy” and “daddy” like a girl who has tripped and bruised her knee.

But in my dream my parents were alive, and I was playing with the toys they’d given me. I woke up with a delightful sense of well-being. I felt loved. I felt taken care of.

I realized of all the things I sifted through at my parents’ home, the toys in my old bedroom always made me smile. I cried over a lot of their possessions, but the toys took me back to joy.

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My brother, Rich, and me in my room as children. I posed with my new toy, Benji.

Joy is an important ingredient in grief. We cannot properly face the ocean of sorrow that death plunges us into without the life preserver of joy. But how do we find joy at a time like that?

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Death Anniversaries: Three Ways to Respond

            I call July “death month.” Both my parents died in July, three years apart. I’ve been through lots of Julys since Dad’s death in 2006, and I’ve noticed three ways I’ve responded.

            We cannot necessarily pick the way we will feel on the anniversary of our loved one’s passing, however, we can prepare ourselves and use the day to further our healing.

            Here are the three Ds we may use to address death anniversaries.

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Recently on Charles Island in Milford, Conn., where I visited as a memorial to my Dad.

            Distract. I distracted myself with an intense romance after the death of my father, and on the first anniversary of Dad’s death, I was distracted by the impending breakup. My heart was torn up in so many ways, I hurt too much to know which hurt hurt most.

            We may busy ourselves with activities unrelated to our loss. A certain amount of distraction is necessary to weather the throes of grief. Go to the movie. Spend time with friends. But we should not allow life to press us so far that we don’t deal with our grief.

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