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By Rev John T. Schwiebert, MDiv



One could not watch the Democratic Convention last week without witnessing a sense of grief on the faces of those whose favorite candidate would not receive the nomination for President of the United States.  They had worked hard and had come close to winning the contest but in the end they had to face a deep sense of loss.  There was nothing they could do but face their grief, whether in the form of denial, anger, or painful acceptance.  As I watched them on my television screen I observed all three!

Suddenly I realized that in the book Tear Soup the list of grief inducing losses on Grandy’s shelf would not be complete until it included “defeat in an election for public office.”

My heart went out to those who suffered this loss, not only because their candidate of choice was also my candidate of choice, but because my father was a politician and our whole family had at times experienced the sting of defeat and the pain that did not easily go away.

In an imperfect world, determining the will of the majority may seem to be our best way to make decisions, but it is still an imperfect way because it creates winners and losers—on the one hand champions who can revel in victory over another and on the other hand also-rans who can only grieve because of what they have lost.

When we started Grief Watch 26 years ago, we declared that our mission was not only to help persons as they moved through the experience of grief, but also to address certain social problems that cause occasions for grief unnecessarily.  This explains why we Pat and I are active in anti-war protests and why we urge non-violent action rather than killing as a key to resolving conflict.

This is also why I am moved to add partisan politics to the list of social problems that need to be addressed.  Although partisan politics is seemingly inevitable is actually is not necessary, and we must continue to hope and work for a better way to choose our leaders and legislators.

And so, for all those who are grieving personally or who will grieve personally this year because of the outcome of a primary or general election, my prayer is that you will survive your grief and find positive ways to move beyond it.

But at the same time I will be praying for a world in which there will never again need to be grief over a political outcome.  I think that is part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Pray then in this way . . .Your kin’dom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).  For when God’s kin’dom is fully realized there will be no losers, no loss, and no need to grieve.


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