I read a blog the other day. . .
This woman wrote that her husband had died six months ago and now that she has completely recovered from her grief she is ready to take what she’s learned and teach others how to get back up on their feet.
What could she have experienced in just six short months that would make her believe it was over?
I read on.
Her blog gave no examples of her own experience, but was filled with shallow observations about why people struggle. In essence she accused the griever of weakness, being inconsiderate, and demonstrating a lack of faith. It was almost as if grieving people were nothing more than a disappointment to the rest of the congregation and detrimental to the evangelical mission of the church.
She wrote that grievers needed to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get about the business of demonstrating the joy of the Lord. They were to be examples of faith—not brokenness. From my personal experience—which spans over two decades—I was much better off honestly admitting I was a mess before God than pretending to be a joyful saint.
Instead of trying to force a grief stricken person back up on their feet, wouldn’t it make sense to first sit there in the dirt with them for a while, listen to them, and help them cry?
This woman wrote that she refuses to dwell in the past or allow herself to return to the pain of her loss. What I hear her saying is that pain remains within her. She thinks she can avoid it by refusing to acknowledge it. I’m left wondering: If she refuses to acknowledge her own suffering, how does she expect to help someone else out of theirs?
Everyone grieves differently. There is no sure fire ten step process to deliver a hurting person from their brokenness. However, dealing honestly with it is essential. Leaning into my pain was the only way for me to come out of it.
What I have discovered over the years since my son was killed is that my reaching out to others has been extremely healing for me. Their raw emotion keeps me compassionate, and mindful of what that brokenness felt like early on. That compassion causes me to spend more time listening than passing out advice or chiding a griever who doesn’t appear to be moving along fast enough.
When I make time to listen—I continue learn—even twenty-three years later.
Photo credit: mariateresa toledo / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND