Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Nature of Mourning

I’ve had my own experiences with mourning. . .we all have. There’s nothing pleasant about it. Grief happens when something we didn’t want to happen, well. . .does. I can’t call it unexpected because sometimes it isn’t. When an elderly grandparent dies, we know it’s the normal circle of life, but still it hurts. The pain of separation is there whether the deceased is 19 or 99. For those of us who hope in Jesus, it truly is just a separation, because provided the one we lost shares that hope, we know we will one day be reunited for eternity.

Then there was my miscarriage. My baby was a person, no doubt, but the grief was different than what it would be if I lost one of the children I’ve met, loved for many months or years and built a relationship with. It felt more like the death of a dream, but very painful all the same. The death of dreams also calls for a season of grief. It’s still unexpected and painful. Still disruptive to the natural flow of our lives. Still requires a path through the pain to reach a place of hope and relative normalcy again.

My recent observation is not about the particular events we mourn, but rather the nature of our mourning. It amazes me the way we judge ourselves and others in the process. Because it is a process that is so inherently personal. . .so individualized that there really is no way to measure how it should look. Some people cry a lot, some stop talking, some talk more than is usual for them, some get busy, some get tired. . .but the point is, we have to do what feels right in our own hearts. There is no time table for grief. . .and I’m often shocked when I find myself suddenly melancholy over something I thought I’d “gotten over” months or years ago. I’ve come to realize that this is also completely normal, but if I focus on where I “should” be, I miss the healing that might be taking place right now. We’re so afraid of sadness that we miss its purpose. And we’re afraid of the sadness of others. . . .I think because it touches the sadness in us. How beautiful the relationship when we ALLOW the mourning of someone else to touch our own pain. We are then able to weave our heart with someone else’s and truly be with them in their sorrow. In my experience, having a friend willing to sit with me as I just feel the pain of grief and mourning is the most comfort to be had. No judging, no suggestions for self-help, just empathy, love and time. Food for thought.