‘The title ‘Meetings in May’ brings a whiff of fresh air and summer sunshine! Which is exactly what my friends and I and a few hundred others were looking forward to next month in the Lake District. We’d planned to dig out our walking shoes for Keswick’s ‘Faith in the Second Half’ conference, 11 – 13 May, looking forward to physical and spiritual refreshing. But the pandemic and various lockdowns have made that impossible so instead we will still enjoy the fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit as the conference takes place online. The conference runs in the morning from 11th – 13th May, and all talks allow plenty of time for questions. My talks are in the ‘general days’, Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th May
Possibly the most pressing theme at the moment is ‘Coping with Bereavement and Loneliness’. (Thursday, 13th May, at 9:20.) Before my talk on this we’ll be hearing from Jeremy Marshall, former CEO of the Kingdom Bank. Jeremy was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2016. In an interview with the Spectator, he said “the hardest part of living with terminal cancer isn’t the treatment; it’s the grief I have caused to other people. I could hardly bear to tell my wife and children about my diagnosis. My mother, who was in her 80s, said: ‘I wish it was me.’” He has been struck by society’s reluctance to talk about death, something addressed in the booklet, Coping with Grief and Loss.
This past year we seem to have been living in a bell chamber of grief. In my talk following Jeremy Marshall’s, I’ll look at how grief affects us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Deaths were unexpected and shocking, often with families unable to say their goodbyes. That’s how it was for me when my 19-year-old grandson died in a motorbike accident. That was 30 months ago, and my family’s lives have been irrevocably changed. Before writing the booklet ‘Coping with Grief and Loss’ I researched the received wisdom and others’ experiences and found practical and spiritual stepping stones that can give us a sound footing through the grief journey.
In my other talks I will be describing the essential circles of support we need in place in times of family illness and stress, (especially caring for someone with dementia) and why we need to strengthen these circles now, before we need to lean on them. We will also examine why spiritual support is essential for a person with dementia. And to encourage us, we’ll be talking about ‘Why God Designed Old Age’. He has a special role in mind for older people, one that takes a lifetime of honing and experience.
There are other talks of interest. To book days at the Keswick Faith in the Second Half conference, go to this website and scroll down the page: https://keswickministries.org/event/fish-2021/. If you have a problem, call Carolyn South on 017687 80075 option 4.
Alexandra Davis, Director of Marketing and Communications for Pilgrims' Friend Society, reflects on the extraordinary service of Prince Philip as an encouraging example
Louise Morse is a trained Cognitive Behaviour Therapist with expertise on issues facing older people, including dementia.
Written within a Christian context, this booklet looks at the impact of grief and loss and explores key stepping stones to help the reader navigate the tricky waters of bereavement.