Losing my beloved church family hit me like a death, but various mental exercises helped me to get through the grief. First, I drew a picture of a treasure chest. There, I wrote reminders of all the good memories: seeing friends every Sunday, church socials, making connections with new people, and giving such well received talks that people asked for copies of them.
Below the treasure chest, I drew a trash bag where I put the bad memories: my chemical sensitivity not being taken seriously, not being able to attend worship with my partner, and fruitless meetings: with the accessibility group that met once, with the environmental committee who was saving the planet from carbon dioxide, the finance committee who refused my donation toward air quality improvement, and the building committee who took two years (during which time others also complained) to put air quality on the improvements list.
The treasure chest and the trash bag helped my grief process, but the mature approach wasn’t enough. I needed something stronger – sour grapes! I grumbled about wasting time with people who couldn’t get it together to do anything to make the building accessible, a professed church value. I growled at the congregation, who used to be my kind of folk, but now seemed more concerned with their righteous causes than each other.
After my sour grape harvest, I could savor the good memories from the treasure chest, just as I can reminisce about high school without wanting to go back. Moreover, it was a relief to no longer have to deal with the issues in the trash bag.
Once I turned in my church building keys, my key ring became lighter.