Spirituality & Health

February 23, 2021

Paula D’Arcy is a writer, retreat leader, and seminar speaker. A former psychotherapist, her ministry grew from personal tragedy. In 1975, she survived an accident that took the lives of her husband and twenty-two-month-old daughter. D’Arcy taps into her own story of bereavement as well as the experiences of others in this revision of a book published in 1990 as When Your Friend Is Grieving. It is about loss and hope; she calls it a compassionate road map for the bereaved. One of the first things grief does is take away your ideas and expectations about the way things are supposed to be in your life. Suddenly all your plans are out the window or put on hold. D’Arcy says that the grieving person has to surrender these images and ideas and let pain teach us what it will. There is no one-size-fits-all” in grief, so each of us has to follow our own special path. That path may include tears, anger, silence, inertia, or an eagerness to talk and do many things. D’Arcy makes it clear that there is no magic timetable to grieving, and the worst thing we can do is try to rush a bereaved person through the process of grief. The grace note is that grief contains the healing we need, and it can become a profound spiritual helper if we keep our hearts open. D’Arcy answers all kind of practical questions about bereavement with material on depression, shock, the body’s response to grief, tips on visiting, honest conversation, things not to say, the gift of touch, the holidays, and ways you can help. She concludes: ‘Grief has been my great teacher and the hardest work I have ever done. It cut me in two, excising my innocence and my illusions. When the scar began to mend, new awarenesses began to replace the illusions. I learned that everyday choices are powerful.’ D’Arcy also cherishes the love that still ties her to her deceased husband and child. It is a love that will last through all time.”

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