Archive for the ‘Grief’ Tag

Loss and Transition   5 comments

I have lost two family members recently.

Barbara Futch, my maternal grandmother, died of natural causes at the age of 89 years, in Albany, Georgia, on August 14.  Her death affected me, mostly after I completed the rush of physical activity during the week following her demise.

Bonny Thomas, my dear friend and upstairs neighbor, died violently just outside my front door on the morning of October 14.  She was 54 years old.  Bonny enriched my life by being part of it.  Her absence detracts from my quality of life.

Grief over two losses has merged into a complex of sadness and guilt with which God, work, church, and friends have helped me to cope.  These losses have reiterated what I knew already:  that life is brief and precious, that we ought to look out for and love one another, and that we should never take anyone for granted.  They have affirmed something else I knew already:  I am mortal.

I have no fear of being dead, but I am terrified of certain ways of dying.

Circumstances beyond my control are imposing drastic changes in my life.  2020, on the personal front, will be far different from 2019.  I have faith, pray for wisdom to make wise decisions, and hope for the best.  While I do so, I remember those I have loved and lost.  I also acknowledge that I may never get over their deaths, and probably never should.  I can and should, however, get on with life as I seek and, by grace, find the best way to make my contributions to society at any given time.



In Paradisum Deducant Te Angeli….   4 comments

Photograph (dated October 27, 2019) by Kenneth Randolph Taylor



JANUARY 17, 1965-OCTOBER 14, 2019

Adieu, ma chérie.

Je t’aime.


Posted October 27, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Feeling Lost   4 comments

Seldom do I remember my dreams.

I did not sleep well last night.  In fact, I awoke too early.  My mind was busy, and I could not get back to sleep.  The details of the dream have begun to fade, but the scenario of being lost and not knowing where important items are has stayed with me.

That feeling describes me accurately.

Since Bonny’s death two days ago, I have been in a daze, with occasional moments of clarity.  In a moment I have made the transition from being articulate to being a sobbing mess many times.  I have, however, decided to force myself back into a routine today, for my own good.  I have always needed grace to do my job well, even on my best days.  (All of us always need grace and depend entirely on God.)  Today and the following days I need that grace more than ever.

I bid your prayers also for Bonny’s family and the repose of her soul.




Posted October 16, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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Farewell   2 comments

I held onto you for your dear life as long as I could,

but you slipped away anyway. 

Vaya con Dios, Bonny. 

May you have the peace for which you longed

during your struggles.

Thank you for being part of my life for a decade.

You improved my life by merely being part of it.



Posted October 14, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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“In the Sweet By and By”   2 comments

Above:  The Communion of Saints

(An Image in the Public Domain)


While growing up in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia, U.S.A., I realized that I did not fit in.  Lacking a proper frame of reference for years, I could not diagnose the issue properly until I became keenly aware of good Episcopal Church liturgy, a la The Book of Common Prayer (1979) and The Hymnal 1982.  I had latent High Church tendencies yet was in a very Low Church setting.

And the music did not help.  Southern Gospel tended to be prominent.  The diction was usually abhorrent, choirs seldom blended, and, in one church, loud and nasal singing was commonplace.  I still have traumatic aural memories.

So I was glad to convert to The Episcopal Church, bow to altars and passing processional crosses, and sing more hymns which sounded good with a proper organ.  From time to time the old hymnody–the one I fled–follows me, even into The Episcopal Church.   If I have advance notice, I can arrange to attend a different service, one without music, perhaps.  My attitude toward certain Low Church Protestant music is reflexively negative.

Much of the problem of Southern Gospel, I am convinced, is the way in which most or many people who sing it sing it.  Often the songs are too fast and inappropriately happy.  Even the sad songs sound happy sometimes.  Consider, for example, “In the Sweet By and By,” which is about the afterlife in Heaven.  Here are the words:

1.  There’s a land that is fairer than day,

And by faith we can see it afar;

For the Father waits over the way,

To prepare us a dwelling-place there.


In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore;

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

2.  We shall sing on that beautiful shore

The melodious songs of the blest,

And our spirits shall sorrow no more,

Nor a sigh for the blessing of rest.

Repeat the Chorus

3.  To our bountiful Father above,

We will offer our tribute of praise,

For the glorious gift of His love,

And the blessings that hallow our days.

Repeat the Chorus

The lyrics reflect a sense of longing, as if one misses departed friends and loved ones yet anticipates reuniting with them after one’s own death.  Thus the hymn contains both grief and hope.  Yet I have almost always heard this sung as if it is all happiness.

This most recent Memorial Day morning, I heard part of Performance Today on my local public radio station.  The program that day was a concert by Cantus, a men’s choral ensemble.  Their concert included a slow and a cappella version of “In the Sweet By and By.”  It was simultaneously mournful and hopeful.  It was hauntingly beautiful.  The diction was flawless.  And I could hear the sparse harmonies and the interplay among the voice parts.  This was what I wished I had heard while growing up.

I wonder what other hymns and songs I might like if only I could hear them performed properly.