VOICES: Ahead of Mother’s Day, an event to process, integrate, and deeply honor grief

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.” – Gustave Flaubert

When we love deeply, we mourn deeply.

While Mother’s Day can offer some the opportunity to love on and celebrate the mothers and like-a-mothers in their lives, for others it represents painful reminders of loss. There are mothers and mother figures who have lost their children, and children who are grieving their moms. And there are also people who might be estranged from their mother or child, and who are feeling a deep sense of loss during this time. Often, these folks are pushed to the margins during this season; asked to grieve silently in the shadows of a holiday that leaves little room for sadness.

As a pastor, I have come to learn that the journey through grief defies logic. When a loved one dies, the pain of loss can feel unbearable — especially in the case of a traumatizing death.

On Aug. 4, 2019, my life as a pastor changed forever. That was the day we experienced the Dayton Mass shooting, an ordeal that we continue to navigate as a community. On that same day, in 1986, a high school teacher in Charlotte, NC, lost her 16-year-old, Sean, in a motorcycle accident. I found comfort in the testimonies of two parents of victims whose unimaginable compassion was conveyed through soulful memories of their lost children.

In addition to the mass shooting at the Oregon District, Dayton has experienced deadly tornadoes, and loss due to drunk driving, suicide, miscarriages and more over the last four years. The COVID-19 pandemic deepened the well of grief, with more than 2,000 lives lost in Montgomery County alone, according to the Public Health Dashboard of Dayton and Montgomery County. In short — there is a collective hurt, both consciously and unconsciously, felt by the community.

All of us will encounter loss and grief at some point in our lives, but we aren’t meant to walk through it alone. God is amid the pain and the sadness. As a community of faith, that has a heart for those who are grieving, your prayers and presence and purposeful action can help to provide comfort and peace.

Holidays and family gatherings are particularly difficult. Mother’s Day is no exception. Many are seized with reliving feelings of hopelessness and futility. Those that mourn the loss of a child or loved one tend to feel the most isolated and neglected.

The Rise Community Church of Dayton has chosen to be a place of healing for those navigating this painful ordeal.

Our Pre-Mother’s Day Brunch on Saturday, May 13 opens a space for all Daytonians to process, integrate, and deeply honor our grief. “From Grief to Grace” is a community event centered around healing and building community for those who are experiencing grief and loss around Mother’s Day. One of the goals of this event is to help the community to understand how, individually, and collectively, grief can open our hearts to connection, compassion, and recovery.

The 2-day event is open to anyone who has lost a child at any stage: in utero, at birth, while an infant, a youth, or even as an adult. The age doesn’t change things — children will always be sons and daughter of parents. Similarly, anyone who might be experiencing the loss of a mother or mother-figure is also invited to attend.

The Rise Pre-Mother’s Day Brunch aims to be a safe space that sheds light on the following:

being with grief, surrendering to grief, and doing with grief

– self-care practices and tools to help you in your grief journey

– meditation practices and movement exercises for being with your grief

– the process of identifying grief and its effects cognitively, socially, and somatically

– pathways to find meaning through grief and transforming grief into compassionate action in the world

With imagination and intention, grief can unfold into grace. Compassion can open creative pathways thus making the world a better place on behalf of those whom we have loved and lost.

For more information, please contact Rev. Dr. Tokunbo Adelekan at RiseChurchDayton@gmail.com.

Rev. Tokunbo A. Adelekan, Ph.D. is Pastor-Teacher and Spiritual Engineer at The RISE Community Church of Dayton.

Rev. Jocelyn Moore is a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Specialist and Master’s Candidate of Divinity at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University.

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