Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Further Collapsing the Categories: We’re all members of the club.

In the open letter to my protégé yesterday, I noted that even the simplest of categories into which I try to classify people (even those I dearly love) do not, thankfully, hold up. It’s an “open letter,” so you can, of course, read it in its entirety. But in a nutshell, I failed in my attempts to consider people as either having needs or having resources with which to meet needs. We all have both. And you’d think I’d know that, given my particular emphasis in ministry, life, passion, and…well, blog title.
This fall, I will be teaching another session of “Bereavement Intervention Skills Training” at Mayers Memorial Hospital in conjunction with Intermountain Hospice and The Glenburn Community Church (which graciously makes me available for all sorts of other involvements, including being Hospice Chaplain). If I were to use the failed categories I mentioned yesterday, then I would say that I am hoping to recruit as many as possible to attend the six evening sessions (September 9, 16, 23, and 30, and October 7 and 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m.), and to be trained to help meet the needs of the bereaved and dying.
That all looks fine, right there in plain English. But here’s where my categories still haunt me a little.
If I think of you as having needs in this area, then that means I see you as being bereaved or dying, and that others who stock up on the appropriate resources, skills and training will be better equipped to help meet your needs. But if that’s the category you’re in, the “bereaved or dying,” to what category do these “others” belong? The “non-bereaved” know that they are, more accurately, the “not-yet-bereaved.” And as for being among the “non-dying?” Actually, there have been two in that category. They’re Enoch and Elijah, if you want to look them up in scripture. But I wouldn’t hold much hope for joining their elite company.
So, again, trying to categorize human beings as having either resources or needs doesn’t work. Those of us who will be engaged in developing resources, skills and training as a means of providing assistance to the bereaved or dying…the fact is, surely, that we are dying. And we are also bereaved. We have experienced a significant loss. If not through the death of a loved one, then through the process of being trained to recognize the mortality of every human being—even ourselves.
So, when it comes to our mortality, there’s no “us-and-them.” As much as we seek our individuality, and our isolation, and our willful ignorance of the simple fact of life’s impending end…we’re in this together.
So, sooner or later, you’ll need the information and skills available through “Bereavement Intervention Skills Training.” Sign up now while there’s still room, and while you still have time.

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