Review: The Dark Interval: Letters on Loss, Grief, and Transformation by Rainer Maria Rilke

Holiday seasons are among the most difficult for those in mourning. Well-meaning platitudes fall short, leaving friends at a loss for words, not knowing how to accompany loved ones engulfed in sorrow or facing death.

Letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke from 1907 to 1925 offer an intimate glimpse into the great poet’s understanding of death and the process of mourning. His letters to bereaved friends address the particularity of individual loss and the great themes of transformation in death and life. This small collection of letters is edited and translated by Ulrich Baer whose own difficult journey through his father’s death was transformed by Rilke’s words.

Review: Care for the Sorrowing Soul: Healing Moral Injuries from Military Service and Implications for the Rest of Us

Care for the Sorrowing Soul: Healing Moral Injuries from Military Service and Implications for the Rest of Us by Duane Larson and Jeff Zust || Our longest military conflict in U.S. history is still underway. Since 9-11 more than 4 million new veterans join the ranks of millions more who have preceded them. Veterans, families and professionals increasingly recognize that some veterans return with a variety of stress-related difficulties, including symptoms of depression, insomnia, withdrawal, isolation, chronic pain, marital strife or substance abuse. Unexpected sleep disorders, sense of regret, sadness, loss of purpose and direction become confusing for the veteran, their family, and friends. Some hurting veterans hesitate to share information, and through a sense of shame or guilt, hold these memories deeply hidden. Veterans silently and secretly carry this unexplained, unremitting, increasing pain and suffering.​​​

Editor’s Introduction: Dying Well – What Have Churches Said?

What does it mean to die well in this culture? Last January that question brought together nearly 50 Lutheran ethicists, pastors, chaplains, hospital and hospice care-givers at the annual Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering for a rich and wide-ranging discussion. The April and May issues of JLE are dedicated to sharing key insights for its audience by presenters to the Gathering. Like sharing news of a superb hole-in-the wall restaurant, we want others to benefit from the excellent fare of last January.

European Protestant churches reflect on end-of-life issues

In her article, Schmidt examines the document “A time to live, and a time to die” a document created and adopted by Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. Grounded in Protestant theology, the document intends to guide the leaders and parishioners of CPCE’s member churches to think about this complex ethical issue, considering both the public voice of the church as an institution and for people struggling with these issues in th​eir own families.

Commending Life’s End to God: The ELCA Message on “End-of-Life Decisions” After Two Decades

Luther’s sermons and letters of pastoral counsel speak eloquently about the ability of faithful Christians to face death confidently trusting God’s promises in the Gospel. In that spirit, the ELCA adopted a social message on “End-of-Life Decisions” in 1992 that picks up this tradition of speaking honestly and faithfully to issues faced by the dying and their loved ones. As a hospital chaplain, Klink explores the gifts of the 1992 message and ponders​ what issues and questions might need further work from a Lutheran perspective given the changes in technological, medical and social climate over the last two decades.

Editor’s Introduction: What does it mean to die well?

What does it mean to die well in this culture? While far too many people never have the opportunity to face that question because their lives are snuffed out, it is being asked with greater urgency and frequency as contemporary societies become more scientifically and medically sophisticated.

End-of-Life Ethics: An Ecological Approach

Over time, we have moved from a model where doctors have the final say in end-of-life care to patients having ultimate decision-making power. Though both of these have benefits, neither inherently consider the family members involved, or the ways in which hopice and palliative care have developed in recent decades. Doka argues for an ecological approach to end-of-life care in which each of these dimensions is taken into consideration to ensure that the ecosystem of a person’s life–including the grief process of their family–is taken into consideration when preparing for a patient’s passing.

A Message for the City of New York: Interfaith Memorial Service

[1] “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, ‘where is your God?’ These […]

Grieving for the Innocent Lives

[1] I cried for a time, thinking about the horrible deaths of all of the innocent people trapped in the World Trade Center, and of the rescuers who gave their own lives to save others. But as I cried I became increasingly angry, not only at the terrorists, but also at the root cause of […]