Alison Faison

Feeding Our Grief

“Cynecism is ungrieved grief.” I thought about this quote a lot after reading Traci Smith’s free Treasure Box Tuesday email. She, a children’s minister and author, quotes pastor and author, Rob Bell, who probably officiated many memorials and heard countless stories of grief from congregation members. In the past two months, I have attended three memorials for parents of my peers. All of the services were culturally different, but the grief was the same. We got together to breathe in stillness, hear music, observe the grieving family, eat a meal together, and connect with our own mortality. Ashes to ashes. I experienced three Ash Wednesdays after Easter. Civilian and urban folks world-wide have endured multiple brutal and unplanned Ash Wednesdays since Easter. San Francisco, Texas, Ukraine, Sudan.

Grief is not something that exclusively follows a memorial. It can be that tortuous feeling of rejection and loneliness when a close teen relationship changes. It can be the continuing sadness that wells up when the presence of a pet is gone. A young parent shared a post about his four-year old child’s openness about death. “Dada, I will love you even when we all are dead.” Her awareness of her grandmother’s death cemented the idea that all living beings will die. It seems that adults have a harder time facing that fact. I say that in light of so much unchecked adult careless behavior that continues to endanger other’s lives. Hubris ends in folly. Sounds Greek to me. Greek tragedy, that is.

People ask why bad things happen to good people. People of faith have a difficult time answering for God, even we know that They love and forgive us. Our solution to ease grief can be to sit with the grieving person or our grieving self and be present in the feelings. We church people like to provide meals or have potlucks to ease the grieving process. Most of us want to fix by offering a solution. I can think of times when I was cynical about a past event or series of interactions. My way of dealing with the grief was to repeat the story to myself and to friends. The feeling did not lessen until I did my own work of experiencing my feeling, having empathy for myself, and trying to negotiate a better circumstance. Eventually, I could move away from that story. Sometimes grief fades into the background. It does make a mark on us, and can show up at unexpected times. Lizzo offers such compassionate, honest, and physical response to grief in one of her latest songs. She goes into her grief, copes by connecting with people, music, and dance. She moves the grief energy. 

“It’s been a minute, tell me how you’re healin’

‘Cause I’m about to get into my feelings

How you feelin’? How you feel right now?

… In a minute, I’ma need a sentimental
Man or woman to pump me up

… Turn up the music, let’s celebrate (alright)
I got a feelin’ I’m gon’ be okay

Moving energy around the body is real and essential for good mental and physical health. We can feel the release and change of mind-set when after we cry, yell into a pillow or rest after being exhausted. Our body knows how to heal itself if it has the reserves to do so. Of course, cancer, heart disease and other long-term chronic illness most often win over the body.

Bringing it back to the positive, let’s imagine how children stay active, follow their instinct to run, jump, roll on the floor or crunch up into a fetal position. They do it to self-sooth, to energize, and to move energy. I enjoy working with infants to fifth graders, as I see the social-emotional, physical, and cognitive development so clearly as they grow. It is fascinating to watch each child’s individual approach to the world around them. I remember that as an infant and toddler, my daughter would naturally cry through her milestones and then break into an energetic new plane of growth. Jesus respected and loved children. Jesus also wept. God gives us feelings, brains, and bodies to cope with the full scope of griefs we encounter in a lifetime. Sometimes the grief is too big. That is when we can be the church, ask for help, sit and eat with someone, and know that grief can take a long time to shift energy.

Cover photo: Alison Faison

More to Explore

Wear Orange: When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Isaiah 2:4 says, “He will settle arguments between nations. They will pound their swords and their spears into rakes and shovels; they will never make war or attack one another.” I read Sandy Hook Promise posts on Instagram and cannot escape thinking of the horror a parent experiences after their child or teen is shot. This is not sensationalism or fake news. On August 27, 2019, I took my middle school daughter to Lincoln High School for a Town Hall on gun sense, directly relating to the shooting of 15-year-old Day’von Hann, a student who lived in the Mission District. Then Speaker Nanci Pelosi, Rep. Jackie Speier, Founder of Moms Demand Action Shannon Watts, CA Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, and 17-year-old Phillip and Sala Burton High School student and member of United Playaz, AJ Santiago led the meeting. After these change-maker women shared personal experiences, data, and gun sense bill proposals, I was sure we would have gun violence reform. I was wrong. The CDC says that firearm incidents are the second-leading cause of death among American children and teens. One out of ten gun deaths involve age 19 or younger. Everytown Research relays that “there were more school shootings in 2022 (46 shootings) than in any other year since Columbine.” One would think that this statistic would be enough to take immediate action to make common gun sense bills into law and enforce them in court. Money talks, so many of the proposed bills continue to be blocked by gun supporter groups. How do we empower our children and teens to use their power to urge legislative, judicial, and executive branches to make change now? We need to continue telling stories of the pain and grief that parents and adults continue to experience after a child dies because of gun violence. Speaking the truth that advocates protection of all people follows Jesus' non-violent civil disobedience against the empire. Christians are obligated to love their neighbor and care for the vulnerable. If they do not want to prevent gun violence against innocent civilians, their beliefs are not based in Jesus' life-affirming truth.

Life After Foster Care

During a Faith in Action Bay Area meeting yesterday we were working on pin-pointing false narratives about unhoused people. Our goal was to find true stories that dispel those untrue statements. What are the false narratives about what happens after a youth becomes an adult and leaves the foster care system? In general, a youth has aged out of the system at 18 years old, but some states are extending it to 24 years in order to provide more support. People who do not want to pay for the foster care system might say, “The foster care/government system has supported children until they became adults. They should have the tools to become independent. They are on their own at 18.” Unfortunately, according to the group, A Sense of Home, we know that 50% of people experiencing homelessness are former foster youth. ( The foster care system does not have the capacity to fully serve resources to the average of 566 children who enter the foster care system every day in the U.S. According to the June 2022 AFCARS Report (, that's 1 youth every 2.5 minutes. There is a disproportionate amount of houseless teens who identify as LGBTQ2SIA+. True Colors United says that they are 120% more likely to experience homelessness and are at risk for gender dysphoria and suicide. ( The nation-wide worker shortage or rather workers’ unwillingness to work in unsupportive environments has also brought an uptick in workers striking in order to get their demands met. Working in the foster care system takes training, dedication to learning on-the-job, as well as compassion and problem-solving skills. If workers are not properly trained and supported, they get emotional burn-out. How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus to help change this system?

Yoga is for Everyone.

We are thrilled to have experienced eight Monday night Kundalini Yoga classes at Calvary this spring. Rocky Blumhagen and Laura Paradis taught yoga postures, breathing techniques, all while playing lovely music, a gong or the crystal singing bowls. The spaciousness and light of Calvin Hall added to the calm sensory experience. Over forty people have joined us for one or all classes. We look forward to continuing this class from 6 - 7 pm on Mondays during June and July. Please note that there will be no yoga classes on May 29 - Memorial Day, June 19 – Juneteenth, and July 2 – Holiday weekend. Yoga is a safe and healing practice for children, youth, adults, and senior adults. B.K.S. Iyengar, legendary yogi, practiced yoga up until he died at 96 years of age. He wrote many books, influenced yoga teachers around the world, and taught his family members, so that they would carry on his legacy. Iyengar method yoga is one of the many styles of yoga, but is based in the values outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras written between the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. A sutra is a single verse composed of Sanskrit words strung like beads in one continuous line. Sutras, like mantras, are chanted or sung. The sutra explains the value at hand, such as non-violence or cleanliness. Patanjali explains that asana, yoga postures, are only one part of practicing yoga. The described yogi works over time to embody all of the yogic values by observing austerities, refraining from distraction, and ultimately focusing on the presence of God.