Shuck and Jive

Saturday, August 04, 2012


I slept in Zach's bed the other night in Zach's old room.  I dreamt about him.  I can't remember much about it except that I was searching for him.   I keep searching for him.  I find myself searching "Zachary Shuck" on google every few days.   I text him.   He scrubbed his facebook page.  He wasn't much for social media anyway but nothing is left but his name now.

The last time his sister, mother, and I saw him was on Father's Day.  I revisit his last ten days between Father's Day and when he took himself from us.   I looked through his bank statement to piece together where he went and what he did.   I want to get in his mind and understand what he was thinking and feeling.   Why do I do this?   Perhaps there is a part of me that thinks that maybe if I figure out the puzzle there will be a different outcome.  I want one more chance.


It is comforting to know that searching isn't crazy.   The Morris-Baker funeral home provided us with a helpful book, How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies by Dr. Therese A. Rando.  She writes this about searching:
Obsessive thinking after a loss gives you the opportunity to look at the death in every way possible to try to comprehend the event and its implications.  At the same time, you are unconsciously hoping that the next time you review it the ending will have changed....

Preoccupation with the deceased is a natural response to the loss.  First, it is a wish to undo the loss.  It allows you to "be with" your loved one even if only in your thoughts.  Second, it is a reflection of the internal grief work being done.  You are focusing attention on the deceased in an attempt to hold that loved one close in your heart and mind.  This makes it akin to hugging someone and holding him tightly before saying goodbye and letting him go.  This preoccupation with the deceased is often manifested on obsessive rumination about him, dreaming about him, thinking that you have seen him, or actively searching for him.  This is accompanied by intense yearning. aching, and pining for what has been taken away from you.  p. 41
Tomorrow I preach for the first time.   It is back to the theme with which I started the summer sermon series, Happiness.   Guess I'll go by the old adage of "fake it 'til you make it" regarding that one.   

We are going to make it.  In fact, we are making it. 

I just wish Zach was here to make it with us.   


  1. I found some previously unknown pieces of my son's writing while cleaning some things out this past week. They sent me into a complete tailspin, but then I remembered a dream I had about him some months ago. The writing was almost a direct continuation of the conversation we were having in the dream. Very unsettling.

    That's some good material the funeral home gave you.

    I used to say (and wrote about; you've probably seen it) that I was trying to preach ahead of myself. It felt like an act of complete insanity, trying to preach the first couple of years. I suppose that it was. Less so now. I think.

  2. As preachers I think we do preach ahead of ourselves. I remember when I had a severe depression due to the loss of my father in law. I had been taking care of everyone else except myself and then it all fell apart. It was 3 years after he died. After I was better I went back and looked at my sermons...I was preaching to myself! Also in grief do not be alarmed if you see him...I saw Dad 2 months after he died while I was reading the Thanksgiving scriptures. He was in the second to last was him. He appeared to my mother in law and to Ray in a dream. All a bit unrattling yet comforting.

  3. @Robin That is unsettling. Was that positive?

    I preached today. It was a full house. I can't imagine what this would have been like early in my career or at a new church.

    @Unknown (Katherine?) Glad that dream was comforting. I suppose I always preach to myself, a more wounded self now...

  4. John, I've always found your sermons to be more of a conversation, or a thinking out loud, than what I would assume is a "traditional sermon." I think that's why they resonate so completely with people. Today was no exception. As for the "fake it until you make it" thing, it is difficult to tell when you stop thinking of it as faking and find that you've actually been floating on a stream all along, rather than fighting the current.

  5. Out of the darkness comes the spark of creativity.