Guest Post by Anne Morelli
I haven’t yet had the privilege of meeting Anne Morelli in person, but we’ve connected in a number of places online. And every one of her posts is encouraging and authentic. She has a way of sharing quiet, heartfelt wisdom. She recently released an intriguing book about grief called, When Grief Descends: Suffering, Consolation, and The Book of Job (see details below). I invited her to share a little bit about her book and her thoughts here. Will you please help me welcome Anne to this little corner of the internet?
In an incredibly short period, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused us to face a breadth and depth of change that has thrown us off-kilter. The losses that are associated with every change have forced us to walk on unfamiliar paths, through uncharted territory. Most of us are just trying to find our next step, process everything that has happened, and do what we can to console others while still maintaining appropriate social distancing.
We are feeling besieged and exhausted as we have relinquished our familiar routines and activities, faced the loss of some personal freedoms, and learned how to navigate all that is unfolding. We have had to deal with not being able to attend church, social gatherings, or being in our physical workplaces. Many have lost their jobs and their income.
We have lost opportunities to travel, eat in restaurants, socialize, and even hug one another. Our sense of safety and certainty about how life should unfold has been shaken. We might wonder about where God is in our adversity and why he would allow us to suffer on such a scale.
As a result, we are struggling with how to cope in a world that seems to have turned upside down, and inside out. Few of us were prepared to face this magnitude of change.
My recently released book, When Grief Descends: Suffering, Consolation, and The Book of Job, deals with these very issues. Drawing on the biblical Book of Job, the book builds a framework for understanding loss and grief, addresses healthier ways to process our sorrow, and offers suggestions about providing consolation to others.
As I wrote the book, I spent considerable time with Job and his companions. Stepping into his narrative of loss and grief, I quickly found myself sitting with Job on the ash heap outside of the city gates. I was a quiet witness as he mourned the incomprehensible loss of his ten children, his vast estate, his job, his health, his reputation, purpose, social connections, and the future as he had envisioned it.
My heart ached as Job lamented and searched for God in his misery. As I eavesdropped on his conversations with his companions, I followed their attempts to offer consolation and as they all struggled to find answers for Job’s adversity.
Although such loss and suffering are universal, timeless, cross-cultural human experiences, it is also true that there is no one set framework or pathway through our sadness. Grief is not a complete, linear process. It is complex.
It will cycle around, loop back and forth. We can feel one emotion one moment and feel something quite different the next moment. Grief can be lonely and isolating. And because grief work is grinding work, it is common to feel emotions such as confusion, weariness, anger, anxiety, or despair. We can feel lost or uncertain about how we are going to deal with all that we are facing and how we might provide healing consolation to others who are also mourning.
Job’s narrative informs us about how, and how not to come alongside someone who is grieving. We learn that being physically present is crucial. We discover how silence has the power to carve out the sacred, grace-filled spaces that help a sufferer to feel connected, comforted, and in control of their healing.
Listening offers the necessary room for a sufferer to question, weep, and lament, without judgement or censure. We learn that consolation is not about pushing our viewpoints, trying to control the conversation, or giving advice. But rather, it is about the timely and sensitive sharing of short observations, prayer, and reading Scripture.
God’s speeches in the epilogue offer us a glimpse of his character and his utter delight in creating and managing every aspect of his creation. His grandeur, sovereignty, power, and enduring love provide me immeasurable reassurance in my suffering experiences. For this image of God has gifted me with a certainty that while God is always present in my circumstances, he is also transcendent and utterly above me. And while I may never fully understand God and all the reasons for our trials, this mystery has become manageable for me, because knowing God is answer enough.
What about you? In your trials and suffering what has been your experience of God? How have your experiences refined or changed how you see him and his role in your suffering?
***Scroll down a bit to learn more about Anne’s fascinating book.
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When Grief Descends invites the reader to sit alongside Anne, Job, and the “miserable comforters” on the ash heap outside the ancient city gates. To also witness their conversations with God and with each other, and learn how to,
- navigate loss and process grief,
- become a more consoling comforter
- acquire the communication skills and practical strategies essential in providing consolation,
- and build an understanding of suffering through the lens of the Christian faith.
This book is recommended for anyone seeking to learn about loss and grief. It is ideal for either individual study or group study because at some reflection questions for journaling or discussion have been provided at the end of every chapter, and in the appendices at the end of the book application exercises have been included.
Bio: Anne Mackie Morelli, BPE, MA, RCC, is a former Canadian National Track and Field Champion, Olympian, educator, clinical counsellor, and pastor, who is now spending her time writing and speaking. She is a woman of faith who has been profoundly impacted by God’s radical love and grace. Anne is currently enrolled in the Seminary at Trinity Western University, in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, where she is completing a Masters’ Degree in Christian Studies and Leadership. Her first solo book, When Grief Descends: Suffering, Consolation, and The Book of Job, became an international bestseller when it was first published in June 2020 by As You Wish Publishers. Anne and her husband have been married for 43 years. They have three grown sons, now all married, and four grandsons. Anne is passionate about empowering others to use their talents, strengths, and leadership abilities for the greater good and to effect positive change in their families, communities, and the world around them. She believes that with encouragement and support every individual has the capacity to contribute and to lead wherever God has placed them. Follow or contact Anne through: