I wouldn’t say that it comes naturally to look at, hold close or cherish grief and loss. But around 8 years ago I had some people in my life that were less than supportive after my mom passed. I remember being chewed out for not showing enough joy. I remember having more work put on my plate and I hadn’t taken any time off other than the emergency trip while she was on life support. If we had been planning her funeral service that day I was working that night. I had a lot of work to get done. When I went to work in the office my boss told me I couldn’t cry so I either waited until he left or took extra bathroom breaks to cry. If I had paid attention to my tears I would’ve known better just how important it is to honor grief.
I do remember one shining light of a person who was a quiet voice. I wish I had listened to her and gathered the courage to set a boundary to rest and have time to grieve (either that or quit my job but back then it wasn’t so easy). Thankfully we would meet for coffee and she would ask me how I was doing. She gave me permission to be sad and to wrestle with the loss of my mom. Once my boss found out I was having coffee with her I was told I wasn’t allowed to have anything to do with her or her family. I remember how absurd this sounded! I met with people often for coffee as a part of my job. Years later I knew he just didn’t want to be told that he was wrong for how he and his wife had been treating me.
This sweet friend taught me the importance of honoring grief, and giving grief the room to breathe as needed for healing to occur. I admit that it has taken me all of these years with added traumatic losses for me to understand the importance of honoring grief. I learned some poor coping skills throughout life. I wouldn’t say grieving was modeled or taught well in the church or even in our homes. And most jobs just want you back so they don’t have to carry your part of the load. People move on with their lives 6 weeks later and you are left with your world somehow no longer spinning anymore. All this taught me was that I needed to conceal, get life done and not feel anything.
Throughout the years I have learned the hard way how to grieve. Distractions, not taking time to rest, ignoring feelings, thinking you need more faith or joy so you just “suck it up”. Without the proper mourning process, grief will become toxic. This is not just limited to the first year. Because my first year was without a good support system my second year hit me like a ton of bricks. By that time I had a new job, was living in a new state and my body had become so exhausted that I was laid out with mono.
Since then, and many losses later, I realize how vital it is for a culture shift to occur. I look at how often we lack any honor toward the grieving. Our culture, even in Christian circles, needs a massive reset button. We need to model this to our kids in our homes. Can you imagine how life would look if we healthily honored grief? Can you imagine if we lived like Jesus did when he wept and didn’t surrender His hope? Can you imagine a community where people know how to “mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep”? I think some of us have the celebrating part down quite well.
I am not saying to have grief become all-consuming, although when you are deep in it, it can feel that way. All I am saying is to honor your grief and honor others who are grieving. Do not set timelines for yourself or others. Breathe through the crashing waves and know it isn’t any indicator of a wrecked faith. Remind yourself that Jesus mourned too. The “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” in Isaiah 53 wasn’t just limited to a one-time event. Jesus suffered many losses and you never once read in the scriptures any lack of faith due to His feelings of sorrow. Feel, weep, wail, ask questions, and live. You are being transformed. Acknowledge the pain and healing will slowly occur.
I assure you Jesus is with you.