July 17, 2016
There is a verse that we all know well. It's one we have heard time and time again. One that calls us to rejoice with those that rejoice, and to mourn with those that mourn. A few versions replace the word mourn with weep. I've heard this verse, Romans 12:15, more times than I can count, but never has it resonated with me more than it did tonight. As I sat in church, two rows behind a father that was mourning the loss of his 19 year old son - a loss that suddenly happened just this week - and I watched his shoulders shake as he wept, I wept along with him. I've never met him. I have no connection to his family, and probably never will. But tonight I felt nothing but a deep connection to him as I took on his grief for just a small moment.
Lately grief is very prominently around us. Over the past several weeks thousands of people have grieved over the loss of loved ones from Dallas to Minnesota to Baton Rouge to Orlando to Nice to Turkey. Large, tragic, senseless attacks on strangers - this theme is becoming much too common. We grieve for one another and for our country and for our world. And this grief is big and it is important. But the truth is - grief is always, and will always be, all around us.
Your neighbor that just lost her husband of 30 years is grieving. Your friend that just lost their best friend from high school is grieving. Your sister that is going through a divorce is grieving. Your dad that just retired from a 40+ year career is grieving. Your co-worker who just had to witness the burial of her younger brother is grieving.
Grief comes in all shapes and sizes and along with many different situations and circumstances. Not only do we grieve for the lives of others, but we also grieve for the lifestyles we once had and the dreams that we've lost. Everyone's reason for grief and their process of mourning looks different. It is a mysterious part of life, and one that is so intricate for each person, it doesn't look the same for anyone. But there is one thing about grief that I know for certain.
We must grieve in community.
And this looks differently for everyone. Communities range from church small groups to your family to your two best friends to your co-workers to a bereavement support group to your therapist. It doesn't really matter what your community looks like, you just need one. A group of people that will weep with you as you weep, that will respect you on the days that you need to lay in bed all day, that will let you talk their ears off, that will lovingly push you along as you continue to heal.
So if you're grieving, reach out and let others support you and pour into you. Be patient and honest with your community. If you are in the community of someone that is grieving, it's common to never feel like you have the right words, and that's okay. Just be there. Be there in prayer, be there in physical presence, and maybe be there with bearing lots of ice cream.
We are not meant to carry these burdens on our own.