We talked with Rev. Fran Tilton Shelton about the complex nature of grief, and what it looks like to walk through grief with God. Fran expounds on these themes in her book The Spirituality of Grief: Ten Practices for Those Who Remain.
Fran is a founder of Faith & Grief Ministries, and leads bereavement workshops and spiritual retreats. She is a preacher and a keynote speaker at conferences.
For twenty years, Fran served PC(USA) congregations in Texas, primarily in pastoral care and was affectionately called “Funeral Fran” by the love of her life and last husband, Bob. She has the courage to take deep finesses in duplicate bridge, stamina to be a member of four book clubs and a spirit for life that sparks contagious laughter.
You can reach out to Fran and find out more about her work on her website frantiltonshelton.com.
Here’s Ryan Flanigan’s poem that he read in the introduction to this episode:
Taking Sides or “On the Side of Good”
Too long have I had to live;
among the enemies of peace.
I am on the side of peace,
but when I speak of it, they are for war.
– Psalm 120:6-7
Moderacy says don’t take a side—
Neither side is good in everything—
But the thing I’ve noticed in these times
Is, more times than not, one side is vile.
Now, the vile are clear to those who know
Peace, which no one sees with violent heart,
But the heart that seeks to bless instead
Is the steady one who stands with God.
One with God can love an enemy;
As for me, my gut goes after war,
‘Til my warring spirit finds that I
Am the iron-fisted one again.
Then, to gain the favor of the world—
Yea, the world that God the Good so loved—
My belov’d, self-seeking, vengeful hand
Must unhand the weapon that I bear.
For to bear the burden of a friend
Puts a friendly spin on what they see,
But to see a foe through God’s own eyes
Realizes them as one of us.
Furious as I am at your sin,
On my sin I heap much more contempt.
When I’m tempted to abandon love,
Still God’s love demands that I forgive.
So, I give my life to follow Christ
In the Christian act of making peace.
If two pieces cannot reconcile,
May I silo on the side of Good.
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