I can remember going to church and having it be the safest and hardest place to be.

Beckie Miller

Beckie Miller’s husband Matt died unexpectedly at the age of 39, leaving her to raise her two boys alone. Now, more than 4 years later, she tells the story.

It happened really fast. But looking back there were signs leading up for many months. But the fast part is that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor on a Friday (I start losing track of the days) but by Monday night he was in surgery and never woke up. And it was either Wednesday or Thursday that we said goodbye. It was supposed to be an easy operation, supposed to be easily removable. So it was just a stunning series of events.

Looking back I don’t know how the people around me were able to support me because they must have been dealing with their own grief someplace else, and that must have been so hard for them.

I remember being numb. I remember telling myself it was okay to take medicine to go to sleep. I’d never taken medicine for any support, so that was a hard decision. I remember getting my boys in counseling right away. And then I remember a group of families coming in and forming a cocoon around me that felt so supportive and protective and somehow helped me find some moments of laughter in all of the horrific absurdity.

Looking back I feel like I wasn’t really present for my kids of a long time and I’ll always wonder what they were feeling. It must have been so confusing for them.

I remember every Wednesday night seeing someone from St. Martin’s at my doorstep dropping a meal off for us, and my boys would get very excited every Wednesday: “What do you think we’re going to have, Mom?”

I can remember going to church and having it be the safest and hardest place to be. It felt safe because I could just cry and I didn’t care and nobody else cared. Or I understood and everybody else understood.

I want to put it into words that articulates it accurately, but courage is to me based in taking apart all of the components of what lays ahead of you and reflecting on it until the right path presents itself, and then it feels simple.

There are other times when there’s no – nothing presents itself. It’s all fog and mixed up. But I think my formal religious experiences in going to church and being around people who understand church, and my experience over the years of being involved with Quaker education give me a comfort in the discomfort. And so sitting and letting something distil and staying in the unknown is not completely uncomfortable for me.

I feel like I have tremendous faith and I feel that way because I am so able to see positive moments in people and in life and feel so grateful, but I don’t feel bitter or beaten down by what happened to Matt.

The group of friends that came and cocooned me heard me say a lot of dark things. And in that there was a lot of dark humor but there were some really poignant moments for me. There were – these gifts that came out of this tragedy are unbelievable. So I have these tragic gifts that keep getting presented to me.

So in that I am incredibly lucky. My boys are incredibly lucky. Of course I’d trade it all in the heartbeat. And I’m sure they would, too. But that wasn’t part of our choice.

Regular Sunday Schedule

8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:15 a.m. worship.together (Eucharist for preschool families)
9:15 a.m. Parish Forum & Christian Education (Kairos)
10:30 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Other Days

Morning prayer is offered at 7:30 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Mid-week Eucharist is offered at 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Compline is offered at 7:00 p.m. on 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, in the Church.

Choral Evensong is offered at 5:00 p.m. on 1st Sundays, Oct.-June, in the Church.

We would love to have you join us.


This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.

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