Christiana N. Peterson: Getting Real about Death, Dying and Grief

“It’s okay to grieve, and in fact, Jesus did it. It’s okay to be afraid; in fact, Jesus was afraid.”

 – Christiana N. Peterson

Season 3, Episode 4 of Messy Jesus Business, hosted by Sister Julia Walsh



Sister Julia Walsh and author Christiana N. Peterson contemplate death, our cultural fear and avoidance of it, and what it looks like to be in a healthy relationship with death. They also discuss grief, mysticism and the saints, the importance of death rituals, and whether rituals are for the dead or those in mourning.

What’s messy about death? Pretty much everything.

“A beautiful word for death is mysterious. but the realistic word is that it’s messy,” Peterson says. “And I think for me personally it’s messy because I spent a year writing this book in order to sort of come to terms with my own fear of death. And it’s still there.”

Peterson explains, “I think that’s part of the work…recognizing that the fear is there and sort of being awakened to our fear, and taking that journey toward healing in that way; taking the internal journey where we’re offering our fear to God, and it is in that act of offering and humility that we grow and we’re transformed.”

They also discuss the role of hospice in a secular society, and the role of community in times of death.


Christiana N. Peterson has channeled into her writing the many things she’s learned from growing up in Texas, going to graduate school in Scotland, living in intentional community on a farm in Illinois, moving to Ohio so her husband could pastor a Mennonite church, and mothering four children. She is the author of Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God Through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints and Awakened By Death: Life-giving Lessons from the Mystics.


Our Contemplative Moment in this episode of Messy Jesus Business is from Romans 14: 7-9.

MESSY JESUS BUSINESS is produced, and hosted by Sister Julia Walsh and edited by Charish Badzinski.

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Twitter: @messyjesusbiz


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