The Art of Grieving

Yesterday, I received a phone call from my little sister. She’s in the last hours of a summer internship and got on her computer to do something. She doesn’t have much access to her computer, so she checked her email for the first time in a month or so. When she opens it up, she received an email saying that a close friend of hers from college died. She was an emotional whirlwind and called our mom. After my mom looked it up, come to show, her friend was murdered by her boyfriend. I received this news and it hit me but it sent me into a temporary denial. I had several people to talk to that night. As the night went on, I felt my heart became more and more grieved. I literally felt a flooding coming to the surface.

I got done with my last social engagement and I had memories swirling through my head. Replay after replay. When I was ten, I saw a man murdered right in front of me. Two men were arguing over money and they both shot each other. When I was 18, I was working out in my college gym and when the news came on, a story comes on about how a classmate and a friend in the group I hung out with at times murdered his parents so he could take their insurance money.. Two years after that, another friend of mine was murdered. In the midst of that, I have had friends die in car accidents, overdose on drugs or be incarcerated for serious crimes. My heart was being consumed by these memories and resonating with the pain that my little sister was going through. I have walked in her shoes and wept like she weeps, was infuriated like her fury and was shocked like she is shocked. I have spent a lot of time in grief in my short life. I have had people brilliantly comfort me and I have had people brilliantly screw me up in my grieving process.

There is no wrong way to grieve. Some people want a clean break from people, but sometimes that’s not possible. People will come along and try to rationalize our pain for us. They make statements like, “They’re in a better place now,” or, “Now they don’t have to suffer any more.” What happened to me, and many people like me, is that we have found ways to build protective barriers or ways to stop feeling the pain of life, and we never move on. We become more cautious, more cut off, and more isolated people. We stop loving others because love hurts. Yet, if someone were to come alongside us and say, “Do what you need to do. Feel what you need to feel.” If someone were there to sit with us in silence and be there to listen and ask questions, we could properly mourn the tragedies of this life.

Sometimes, I really hate Jesus. I hate Jesus because he makes statements like this, “Blessed are those who mourn.” Mourning requires love and loss. And, when we lose something we love, it’s devastating, it’s painful. It feels like a death. Death is a state of disconnectedness. We are no longer connected with the thing that has passed. Yet, this is the brilliance of Jesus. Blessed are you who still love, when you are losing. Blessed are you who are still trying to connect when you are disconnected. This is why these moments of death and loss are so excruciating. If we are dealing with death and loss alone, we fall into the traps of the loss and we are filled with despair. But, for those who are dealing with the grief and mourn with another human being, those are some of the most intimate and bonding experiences that a human being can go through. It allows us to reestablish connection when we have lost something that we cannot get back.

Blessed are those who mourn today. Blessed are those whose hearts are filled with grief. Blessed are those whose hearts are angry, lost, alone, and disconnected. May we all let others grieve, as they need to grieve. May we all learn how to grieve. May we know when to stay silent, when to ask questions, when to serve, and when to speak.

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8 thoughts on “The Art of Grieving

  1. alexa says:

    Love the realness and the permission given to grieve, to love life and question it, to say to God this is hard all at once…..thank you!

  2. “There is no wrong way to grieve.” So many people in our world need to hear this! I’m glad that someone explained that to me when I was younger – I’ve had several opportunities to grieve and I gave myself permission to do so whenever and however … even months later. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Solveig Crompton says:

    It is now 17 days since the worst tragedy in peace time hit Norway, and 55 young people lost their lives at the hands of a single gun man (77 died in total). Grieving is going to be one challenge which Norwegians from all over the country are going to face in the coming days, months and years. Never was there a better moment to show the love of Christ, not by uttering words of platitudes but if nothing else conveying that He is big enough to take it if someone feels anything close to how you felt! Thanks for the post.

  4. M.J. Teston says:

    Great words Mike. Last six months I’ve had two key leaders violate the money, sex, and power issues in the Church I lead. Yesterday afternoon a guy guns down 7 people and he is taken out by the police. Ya just get to the point where there is so little left inside to even respond anymore to the brokenness around you, almost all of it freely chosen by human beings against human beings. Uggggggggg Gonna borrow your words for my Facebook page.

  5. I believe loving through loss and still connecting when disconnected fall under that miraculous heading of “what only God can do” through us. May we remain open and pliable in His hands when we are hurting.

  6. David says:

    *hugs4usAll*

  7. Thank you.
    I appreciate the Jewish idea of sitting shiva, this is what Job’s friends do with him for the first week. They sit with the grieving person in silence and wait for the person grieving to speak first. The consolation comes in the presence. No words can comfort, but presence can.

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