Tuesday, August 4, 2015

When you have a case of saditosis

Our little friend McCoy has a way of capturing the essence of a situation in words. One evening when I was explaining about the promises of God in a children’s class at church, I used the post-flood rainbow and God’s promise never to flood the whole earth again as an example. He paused a moment in thought and then said, “That’s not just a promise, that’s a super promise.”

Yes, it is McCoy. A super promise, for sure.

So, I wasn’t surprised at another of his insights when I received a text from his grandmother. He had long anticipated a sleepover at a friend’s house, but at the last minute, he came down with strep and was confined to home. He mulled over his disappointing situation. With tear-filled eyes, he looked at his grandmother and said, “I have saditosis.”

Ah, yes, saditosis. If only we could take an antibiotic for seven days and get rid of it like we do strep.

Friends, don’t bother looking saditosis up in any medical dictionary. You won’t find it. McCoy invented it to describe his situation. Very aptly, I might add.

In 1961, as chaplain and professor with joint appointments at the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Medical School, Dr. Granger Westberg delivered a radio message on the stages of grief people appeared to go through after losing someone they love. A normal message might receive a dozen or so letters in response. Westberg’s message on grief elicited almost a thousand.

He’d hit a nerve.

He went on to write a little book from that message entitled, Good Grief. His message has now circled the globe for more than fifty years and has become a classic.


Since my dad’s death a couple of weeks ago, I have reread Good Grief. In it he says, “Grief is a natural part of human experience. We face minor grief almost daily in some situation or another.” Like McCoy’s disappointment over losing his opportunity to sleep over at a friend’s house, we too face daily disappointments and loss in addition to the bigger ones like moving to a new location, empty nest, retirement, or even more devastating ones like death and divorce.

In Westberg’s book, he seeks to “explore the good aspects of grief” and “also what we can learn from it.”

“Faith plays a major role in grief of any kind. But not in the way some people think. They often seem to have the idea that a person with strong faith does not grieve and is above this sort of thing. They might even quote the two words from Scripture ‘Grieve not.’ They forget to quote the rest of the phrase in which these two words are found: ‘Grieve not as those who have no hope’" (I Thessalonians 4:13).

Westberg describes the stages of grief, which don’t necessarily occur in any certain order. It helps to hear about these stages. When I feel anger, guilt, or resentment, I know that these emotions are part of the process. Sometimes, I can feel several of the stages all in one day. Grief has its own timetable. No one person grieves like another.

There’s no way around this thing we call grief. It is a door we are all destined to walk through at some point in our lives, most likely many, many times. If you love, you will grieve.

If we allow it, however, God will ultimately bring us through the process to hope and healing.

If you have saditosis, I recommend Good Grief.

I think McCoy would, too.

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