The question is not, will they come, but how will we deal with them when they do come. While the process will be different for everyone, Angela A. Dockter-Harris offers some assistance with her book, Dance in the Rain: His Joy Comes in the Mourning.
Dance in the Rain is divided into two parts. In the first half of the book Angela guides the reader through a variety of journaling exercises; some are applicable to anyone experiencing grief and others are designed for particular situations such as the death of a child. Sections include Remembering the Person You Love, This Gift I Leave You (for those who are facing their own death), and The Loss.
One thing in particular that I like about this section is the simplicity. Particularly when someone is just beginning the grief journey, thinking can become clouded and difficult. Concentration can often be elusive at best. Angela makes it easy for the reader by not merely suggesting topics to write about, but by providing the start of simple, yet meaningful sentences, leaving space for the reader to respond.
Like a breath of fresh air, the honesty in the journal blows away the oppressive burden of pretending the deceased was perfect. She gives the reader an opportunity to share some of the loved ones quirks and even recall some of their “pet peeves” with the loved one. This is certainly not the focus of the journal, but these things are part of our daily lives with the people we love and it is beneficial to have someone say it’s ok to acknowledge them.
Whether readers like to journal or not, they can benefit from this section. A fairly common fear among the bereaved is that they will forget things about their loved one. The direction provided in the journal will jog the memory; even a one or two word response can help preserve precious memories and provide relief from the fear of forgetting. Thinking and praying through the journal prompts can jog the emotional memory as well and help the mourner find healing. For journal enthusiasts the prompts may be a springboard for additional thoughts about their loved one.
The Bible Study
Part two is a Bible study that examines four topics: When a Loved One Isn’t Saved, Anger, Sorrow, and Acceptance. The Bible study is provided twice in its entirety so that someone facing death may do the Bible study and then give the book to a loved one who can also complete the Bible study.
Parts of the Bible study may be a bit challenging and in all likelihood some people may disagree with a few of the author’s conclusions. Nonetheless, I believe the Bible study will prove to be valuable to those who are grieving, particularly, if the reader reads both of the introductions. In the first introduction Angela shares a bit of her own experience with grief which gives her a platform on which to stand when she makes some, perhaps, hard to swallow statements. For instance, in the chapter on acceptance she leads the reader through a series of promises and truths found in Scripture. She goes on to say that all Bible-believing Christians must embrace these truths. People in the midst of grief may have a hard time embracing the truth that God works all things for the good of those who love Him. The difficulty or pain doesn’t negate the truth, but I think it’s only fair to acknowledge the Bible study may present some challenges along the way.
In the second introduction Angela shares her heart’s desire for the healing of her readers. I get the sense that she genuinely cares about those who are mourning the death of a loved one and she knows from personal experience that embracing the truth of the Scripture and the One who wrote them will ultimately provide comfort and healing.
I recommend this book to anyone experiencing the pain of grief and to anyone who wants to help others travel through the journey.
Author: Angela A. Dockter-Harris
Publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises (2008)
Categories: Self-Help: Journal Writing
Family and Relationships: Death, Grief, Bereavement
Christian Living: Relationships: General
ISBN and Length: 978-1-60694-513-8, 195 pages
Note: The reviewer received a complimentary copy of Dance in the Rain.