Last weekend was a tough one for several families I know. Despite very different circumstances, each of these families was affected by the death of a loved one. Whenever families close to me are going through these times I tend to go back to my own experiences with losing loved ones, and the different thoughts and emotions that stir in my soul. Here are some of those thoughts:
Jesus said blessed are those who mourn, but He never really said how to mourn. I think it’s a mistake to tell people they have to mourn a certain way. The most offensive thing I’ve heard is ” don’t cry”. Really? I’m pretty sure Jesus himself cried when His friend passed. When Mi Padre died, our family all mourned in very different ways. I actually felt a sense of relief and joy, and still enjoy telling stories about him. Mi madre and hermana both have very different ways of mourning. Who’s right? All of us. That is part of the blessing of mourning, we each have our own way to grieve. I believe this allows God to get very creative, and when God gets creative, beauty is the end result. It’s so tough to see that in the midst of a great loss because we don’t always know how that beauty will manifest. But we have that promise from God that we are blessed and we will be comforted. Which is the very definition of faith, hoping in something that we cannot see yet.
When it comes to comforting, I think we all have an innate desire to mourn with those who mourn, but we often fail terribly short from a practical standpoint. A lot of my memories from attending several memorial services come from well-intentioned words that were, well, let’s just say they meant well. I can’t step on toes here without pointing towards myself and remembering how many times I felt like I had to say something so they knew I cared. This is where ‘quick to listen and slow to speak’ comes into play. More and more, I find myself realizing that a simple hug and KYAL are the most meaningful acts of compassion I can give, especially in situations where I am not entirely sure what to say or do.
If nothing else, a healthy dose of mourning is a powerful reminder that you are alive. I think Tennyson was right when he penned, “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”. There are very few things that stir the soul, even if it’s uncomfortable, like suffering a loss. I remember my times of deep, deep loss, and the feeling at the very center of my core that made me feel very real. That sounds a lot better in my head than it looks on the screen but it’s true. I remember thinking about every breathe I took, every color I saw, every slight breeze, and every change in temperature. The little thingsI often overlooked suddenly had value. I can’t say that I feel that way very often, and it’s definitely because I’m much more concerned with things that are much less important.
Jesus was very adamant about lukewarm Christians, and I think that says a lot about the hot and cold. Those that are on fire for God seem to be ready to praise Him because things are good. But what about those that are cold? I think when we suffer a terrible loss it forces us in to one or the other with God, which is a good thing. It’s often when we are completely broken and cold that we have our most honest conversations with God. Maybe part of the blessing of mourning is that it draws us away from a lukewarm relationship to something very real, honest and meaningful. I’m not talking about blaming God for suffering, but being very honest with Him about the pain that it causes. In the end, I think the comfort comes from God saying, “I know how you feel”.
One love, one heart.