often think of grief as a brief stage of mourning. But living with HIV
extends the duration of grief to the length of a lifetime. We live, infected,
wondering what will give in first, and last; unsure what promise to make
of our children and ourselves; wondering when the distant bell will suddenly
toll more closely. We do not so much recover from this grief as learn to
live with it.
Because the epidemic
first surfaced in America's gay communities, this grief has been compounded.
Old patterns of discrimination came to life with new brutality. Traditional
sources of comfort - the home and the church - became, instead, tribunals
of judgment. Parents rejected children. Voices rang out from pulpits saying
the virus was God's idea, speculating that HIV was divine retribution.
Intimate messages of rejection were matched by public policies of indifference.
For the AIDS community
in America, the voice of God heard from communities of faith has been terribly
muted. Temples should have raised high the roofbeams to bring them in;
churches should have shouted messages of grace from the rooftops. But what
most members of the AIDS family have heard is whispers about their morality
and the hope that, like modern-day lepers, they will not get too close."
- Excerpt from "When Grief
Sermon by Mary Fisher
at Cascade United
November 21, 1993