Mourning

Malia pictureSome dear friends from our church family are grieving and my heart just aches for them. I wish that somehow, someway the pain I feel in my heart for their loss could lessen, even just a bit, the pain they feel. It’s just so tremendous. But I know that doesn’t really happen. But I really wish it did.

I’m reading a book called Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner. At the beginning of a chapter titled “Mourning” she gives this anecdote from a widow she knows,

“For about two weeks the church was really the church–really awesomely, wonderfully the church. Everyone came to the house, baked casseroles, carried Kleenex. But then the two weeks ended, and so did the consolation calls.” [Lauren speaking now] While you the mourner are still bawling your eyes out and slamming fists into the wall, everyone else, understandably, forgets and goes back to their normal lives and you find, after all those crowds of people, that you left alone. You are without the church, and without a church vocabulary for what happens to the living after the dead are dead.

Ironically enough, I was reading this chapter around the time death occurred. I didn’t feel any supernatural tugging or get chillbumps or anything of that sort. But the next morning in church service, when I received the news I remembered what I had been doing the night before and it all became very clear.

I know my friends are private people and I can respect their wishes to mourn privately and be comforted by those closest to them. But I truly, fervently hope that we, the church, can really be there for them not just now with casseroles and Kleenex but 3 months from now, six months from now, one year from now with prayers and support and empathy for the sorrow we bear with them but only they can survive.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Mourning

  1. Unfortunately Fairfax has had plenty of experience in this area over the past several years. I don’t know if it helps but during one of those times, I told the person grieving for the sudden loss of their young husband the exact same thing you were reading. I told her that we were not in any way being rude or insensitive but it was going to be so much easier for us to get back to our normal life. I also told her that when she needed people to be back in her corner to call and cry and I would be right there with her.

    Our church has struggled with what to say to people while they are grieving. We all mean well but often we end up doing more harm than good. I suggest that a person doesnt have to say anything when they see the grieving person–becuase, even though we don’t mean to, it becomes about us. A gentle touch on the arm, or a hug or a wink when you pass in the hall communicates a lot to the grieving person. Those of us on the “outside” are grieving in a way too and what we tend to is, most often subconciously, make ourselves feel better.

    I have found in my limited experience that just offering to be there and keeping my mouth shut until asked is one of THE best ways to help.

    I will pray for your friends. God knows them.

  2. Wow, I do not know what to say after Ellyn so eloquently said things I wanted to express.

    I am sorry you and your friends are hurting so.

  3. Being there to listen if needed is important. The only thing to say that means something and in no way will offend, is I’m sorry.

    Having lost a child and my grandmother in Feb. 1996 and my mom in Feb. 1997, I cannot even begin to tell you the idiotic comments some people make in ignorance.

    A card in remembrance on the birthdayof the deceased or the anniversary of the death are greatly appreciated.

  4. Great point Janice! I have noticed that people appreciate it when you send them a card or an email telling them that you are remembering them on the year anniversary or on that person’s birthday.

  5. Ellyn~I really appreciated it. Making extra food so you can bring over dinner(after the initial 2 weeks) is a good thing. Use foil pans from the store and then they can freeze it and you don’t have to worry about getting any dishes back. I also liked it if people stopped me to tell me of a memory. Most people need to talk about the person who died. Not 100%, but talking about it all really helped me.

  6. I never know what to say when people are grieving. Or how often to say it. I had a friend in Texas who lost her husband in Iraq. I brought her a meal and sent emails to let her know I was praying for her and her children… but beyond that I was at a loss. I felt like I’d want to be left alone in that situation, but I guess different people probably grieve in different ways. I’m very sorry for your sadness and especially that of the family in mourning. I’ll say a prayer for them today.

  7. Janice–I agree! Thank you for sharing your experience. People think they KNOW what it would be like and they just don’t! I know that I thought I understood until it happened to me. I was sitting in the church at the funeral thinking…”this is some kind of dream! We CAN NOT be doing this right now! This happens to other poeple, not us.” Nothing seemed real. It was at that moment I realized a lot of my preconceived ideas were wrong. I didn’t know how they felt. It is almost like a being a part of a club. You don’t really get it until you have to join.

    It also helped me to email a friend who was living far away and not involved, because I literally felt like I was oging crazy and I needed a reality check. I bawled the whole time I typed the email and when she responded with THE best answer for me, I bawled the whole time then. I just needed someone not emotionally involved to let me knwo what I was feeling was “normal”.

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