Have you ever thought about what holds us together as humans? Flesh, bone, blood, breath, water. The capacity for love, fear, pain, anger, sorrow, joy, hope, despair, peace, compassion. Then, there is grief.
It seems that nearly all of us across the globe have an experience of loss or grief ... or we will ... with a rare exception.
Today, many in this world grieve. Loss of jobs in a nearby town. Loss of health. Loss of trust in a broken relationship. Loss of a sense of safety. Loss of integrity. Loss of ability or capacity.
Some of us have grief we seem to be able to work through on our own. Others of us experience grief in layers of complexity. It may take us our whole lives to work through grief. Others of us may never resolve it.
Right now, I pray for many in pain. I pray for you and yours. I pray for some I cannot name. I pray for other nations and for our own. I pray for friends and enemies alike. I pray for families keeping vigil at bedsides as they wait, wondering when the last breath will come, longing for the angels to wrap wings around their loved one’s spirit, even as they hope for one more good day.
Dr. Alan Wolfelt of the Center for Loss and Life Transition wrote:
“A homeopathic response to grief is to go with what is presented rather than against it. The more authentic way of being in tune with the spirit and the soul is in the direction of the symptoms. Enter into what the mourner thinks and feels, without thinking your job is to change what she thinks and feels.”
The strains of Psalm 137 echo in my heart. The mourners know how to sit down together and enter into their grief. Taken into exile when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, the Psalmists sing:
“By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our harps.
For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’” (1-3, NRSV)
In the song of the faithful, I hear the wide collection of emotions folded into grief: anger, shame, pain, sorrow, fear, hope, joy, rage, trust, peace.
We may not know what it is like to be taken into captivity, to be dislocated from all that we have ever known, but we know the core emotions. We know the common experience of the human being. We can imagine ourselves into such deep experiences. If we cannot, we can surely come alongside one another, authentically leaning into what the other thinks and feels as we move through the journey.
If you are grieving, find someone who will listen deeply and hear you. If you are granted the place of being listener, do not try to change the mourner. Simply be together.