Rye Fire Department chaplain Andrea Raynor has published a new book, Alphabet of Grief, out today. The book description on Amazon says "Chaplain and spiritual counselor Andrea Raynor knows that when the funeral service is over, the friends leave, and the house grows quiet, grief can be overwhelming. In The Alphabet of Grief, she uses the letters of the alphabet as starting points for simple reflections on loss and hope. Each chapter concludes with a meditation and an affirmation—something to do and something to believe."
(PHOTO: Rye Fire Department chaplain Andrea Raynor.)
Raynor is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, is a United Methodist minister, the Rye FD a chaplain, and a cancer survivor. She has served as a hospice chaplain since 1997, has worked with the homeless in NYC and Boston, and was a pastor to churches in NY, CT, and MA. In the aftermath of September 11th, she served as a chaplain to the morgue at Ground Zero, offering blessings over remains and support to the many workers there.
From an Cincinnati.com:
"(During 9/11) She comforted first responders who were seeing things no one should have to see, inhaling things that would later make them sick. Raynor was hopeful, too, at first. She lived just outside of the city and was a grief counselor, hospice chaplain and an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. She made her way down to Ground Zero as a volunteer, at first to comfort workers, later becoming a chaplain in a tiny portable morgue. She was there for nearly nine months.
There would be no survivors — only remains — which became progressively smaller as the weeks went by. Torsos at first, then arms, leg bones, the hand of a man whose wedding ring was still attached. "I never saw a body with a head," she says…
"If you would have asked me Sept. 10 if I can look at the charred remains of somebody who had died in a terrorist attack, I would say I don't think I can ever do that, but after the things that happened that day, I knew that I had to do that," Rayor told me this week from her home in Rye, N.Y…
"Alphabet" comes near the anniversary of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and on the heels of the landfall of Hurricane Harvey in Southeast Texas. All share an obvious common denominator: Uncontrollable events that left grief in their wake. This is where Raynor excels. She encourages those who are dealing with loss to acknowledge their grief in order to get through it. She reminds them it's OK to celebrate, too. In fact, celebrating is encouraged.
"We can't escape the fact that we are surrounded by trauma and sadness that challenges us to keep our hearts and spirits beating. It’s hard for people to talk about loss because no one likes to cry in public," she says. "When we acknowledge the pain we are in, we can feel the love that is behind that. But if we put a lid on our pain, we can numb ourselves to the love that is underneath it.
"We have to allow ourselves to feel what the human heart can feel.""
You can purchase the book on Amazon.