We tend to think of death, when we think of Compassionate Endings. But there are all kinds of endings that fit this powerful theme: end of a relationship, end of a career, end of a journey, end of a dream. It might be a celebrated ending, like a well-funded retirement … a challenging ending, like a natural disaster … or a painful ending, like a slow decline into illness.
Compassionate Endings don’t have to be huge. They can be the end of a project, end of a vacation, end of a visit, end of a song. What makes them compassionate is not the size of the event, but the way it is lived. Any parting, taken gently and with kind consideration, could be a Compassionate Ending. Laying someone off from employment, done with grace and tenderness, or choosing to intentionally close a business or end a project, when it has run its course, could be a Compassionate Ending. The compassion is in the style and the substance of the finish, an act done with meaning and purpose. Or when an ending is less than ideal, compassion wields its power in the response, the healing.
We live together in community, eager for connection. Endings can be challenging, disruptive, especially when we don’t expect them. But a powerful gift of working together is the ability to reframe circumstances for each another. A lost opportunity can be recognized as a new opening; a broken item can be seen for its new beauty. We help one another to see the possibilities where, alone, we might only see loss.
When the loss is too profound or painful to reimagine, compassion calls us to bring comfort. We offer peace in any way we can. We bring food or a listening ear; we play music or cry together; because we know that the only thing worse than grieving a loss, is to grieve alone.
We shape and reshape the meaning of our stories together, and we find refuge in one another’s kindness. And in this way, Compassionate Endings give more than they take away … and we begin, again, in love.
Reverend Anne is on sabbatical, returning August 17, 2015.
This post is reprinted from the current monthly Theme Packet, prepared in advance of her departure.