Minister’s Newsletter April 2019

by Reverend Bob LaVallee

Hello All

What’s the right way to deal with grief? We live in a world where we are constantly witness to THINGS THAT ARE NOT RIGHT. And that’s just in the public realm. Each of us in our personal lives endures losses, betrayals, and injuries. No matter how ethically or joyfully we choose to live, at one point or another misery will knock down our door. It’s a part of life, just as surely as beauty and love are parts of our lives. When (not if) loss comes, we must make decisions about how we will grieve.

I just finished a remarkable book on that subject: H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald. In this memoir, Helen is devastated by the loss of her father. In the depths of her grief, she decides to train a Goshawk. (She had worked with birds of prey for years up to this, so it’s not as random a decision as it seems at first blush.) As she develops a deep connection with this wild creature that is now her constant companion, she loses and then regains her humanity. In that process comes healing and a deeper self-awareness. It’s a gorgeous, fascinating read and I highly recommend it.

I suspect that for most of us at South Valley, choosing to train a hawk is not a realistic option for grieving. Every day I talk with people from this congregation who are either actively grieving or still holding a tender spot from some previous loss. I’m always struck by both the heartbreak and the resilience that folks demonstrate. And while we often experience similar losses, I see how grieving is a deeply personal process. Everyone must find their own path back to wholeness. I encourage people who are grieving now to express their grief in the way that suits them now, as they are. It can be conventional or weird or even involve a hawk. Whatever the path out of grief requires, follow it. The only way out is through.

If you’re in the middle of grief and are struggling to make sense of it, or simply need a sympathetic ear, I’m here for you. Send me an email at and let’s talk. I’m holding you all in the heart of love.


Rev. Bob