Loss and Separation

I’ve been in mourning recently – feeling deep loss and separation – and feeling a little sorry for myself.

There’ve been a lot of opportunities to deal with feelings of separation in the last decade. Mom died. Dad died. Dear friends died. Sons are making lives of their own and sometimes in faraway places. And there have been times, lately, when I’ve felt almost overwhelmed by grief.

I would never tell someone else to “snap out of it” when they’re feeling grief and sorrow – we feel what we feel, and as it says in Ecclesiastes 3: “To everything there is a season, and a purpose under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a tme to dance; a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together…” It’s not my place to decide when someone else’s season of mourning has ended.

But today I found myself saying to myself, “Snap out of it!” My time of mourning was over.

I’d been looking for citations about separation and loss in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, and I came upon this passage on page 386: “A blundering despatch, mistakenly announcing the death of a friend, occasions the same grief that the friend’s real death would bring. You think that your anguist is occasioned by your loss. Another despatch correcting the mistake, heals your grief, and you learn that your suffering was merely the result of your belief… You will learn at length that there is no cause for grief, and divine wisdom will then be understood. Error, not Truth, produces all the suffering on earth.” In the next paragraph, Eddy writes: “…when our friends pass from our sight and we lament, the lamentation is needless and causeless. We shall perceive this to be true when we grow into the understanding of Life, and know that there is no death.”

Which. Whoah, right? Mary Baker Eddy does not beat around the bush. And that’s when I said to myself: Snap out of it! I needed that statement of truth from Mrs. Eddy. It was like having a bucket of ice water poured over me on a blistering summer day. Refreshing! Invigorating! Galvanizing!

Mary Baker Eddy experienced incredible loss in her life: Her husband of six months died of yellow fever; Her young son was taken from her to live with family friends when he was four years old and, when he was 11 or 12, the family moved thousands of miles away and Eddy didn’t see her son again until he was 34; her grandchildren were raised in South Dakota, thousands of miles from Eddy’s home in New England – and this was in the 1800s – long before cars and planes, Facetime and Zoom.

Eddy wrote in Retrospection and Introspection: “The family to whose care he (her son) was committed very soon removed to what was then regarded as the Far West. After his removal a letter was read to my little son, informing him that his mother was dead and buried. Without my knowledge a guardian was appointed him, and I was then informed that my son was lost. Every means within my power was employed to find him, but without success. We never met again until he had reached the age of thirty-four, had a wife and two children, and by a strange providence had learned that his mother still lived, and came to see me in Massachusetts.”

So when Mary Baker Eddy says that we will learn “there is no cause for grief” she is speaking from personal experience and not just being cavalier about other people’s time of mourning.

Mary Baker Eddy’s poem, “Mother’s Evening Prayer,” has been a great comfort to me in recent years. I sang this song to myself when my oldest son was traveling through Europe at the beginning of the Pandemic, and have hugged it close to me as both sons have moved out and started their own amazing lives. And, when I think of the loss and separation that Mary Baker Eddy experienced in her own life, I know this poem comes from a woman who has felt the same things I have felt.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Mother’s Evening Prayer

O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.

Love is our refuge; only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here, and nigh,
His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.

O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain!
Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear
No ill, — since God is good, and loss is gain.

Beneath the shadow of His mighty wing;
In that sweet secret of the narrow way,
Seeking and finding, with the angels sing:
“Lo, I am with you alway,” — watch and pray.

No snare, no fowler, pestilence or pain;
No night drops down upon the troubled breast,
When heaven’s aftersmile earth’s tear-drops gain,
And mother finds her home and heav’nly rest.

By Mary Baker Eddy

(This is me singing “Mother’s Evening Prayer” at the beginning of the Pandemic as my son was traveling through Europe. Mount Baker in the frame.)

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