grief

Offering the gift of non-judgmental listening

According to Elaine Presnell, a funeral officiant and a commissioned lay pastor at Pleasant Point Mennonite Church, the best gift one can offer a grieving family is non-judgmental listening. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Elaine Presnell has presided at around 600 funerals. That’s a number most pastors won’t achieve in a lifetime. But Presnell isn’t an ordinary pastor. For more than 10 years, she has worked for Mourning Glory Funeral Services in Saskatoon as a funeral officiant.

Previously, she spent 16 years as a psychiatric nurse at Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre. 

‘I should ask Dad’

“It was here somewhere,” I said to my son Allan. “The Boese canning factory was over here, and over there was an orchard where we lived in our trailer until about 1962. It was near the dormitory for the workers. At least I think. I should ask Dad.” (Dad was Peter Rogalsky. He and Leona [Unger] Rogalsky, my mom, had both worked for Boese in the late 1950s and early ’60s.)

Small-town suicide

I wrote this story two years ago, and since then another suicide has occurred and been mourned, in a neighbouring community. That man I did know. To remember both of these men who left behind wives, children, even grandchildren, today I publish it. Let’s learn how to handle mental illness in the church in a way that embraces rather than isolates.

It is with a heavy heart that I write today, and even now I debated sharing this. I do so because I believe that the story I am about to share is one with a lesson that we, the Mennonite church, need to learn.

Seeing the Other Side

How resilient are people? Do we really fall apart in every situation of grief? How is it that we can recover from horrendous trauma to life normal lives again?

In his book The Other Side of Sadness, George A. Bonanno explores mourning and the nature of human resilience in the face of grief. He suggests that the idea of people getting stuck in grief and overwhelmed by loss to the point of being unable to function over time is actually less common than people may think. The norm is actually resilience.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 
Subscribe to RSS - grief