Every Wednesday

Every other Wednesday, I will post a reflection on grief as I continue to explore its landscape and listen to your experiences. In the sharing of our stories with each other, we find encouragement and build a community of support and understanding.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Comfort in a Time of Grief

You know how it is when you suffer a tragedy and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and are happy again in no time at all? Neither do I.

When we’re deep in grief, there’s not much we can do to get out of it. There’s little that anyone can say that softens the impact of our loved one’s death. When we’ve moved further on in grief, we’re more understanding, but it will never be all right that our loved one died.  

We accept death as an eventuality, of course. It’s the timing that trips us up. What we mean is that people we love should never die. It also rubs us wrong when someone young dies, especially an infant. And when innocent people suffer. And when compassionate people have to endure horrible illnesses and die. And when people die because of someone’s inattention or stupidity. Death, simply put, unsettles us.

I believe there is some form of afterlife/heaven, although the exact nature of this is fluid in my mind, so there is comfort for the dead. What comfort is there for those left behind? 

When someone gives me a jacket on a cold day, the jacket is physically comforting because it’s warm and I’m no longer cold. I also have a red alabaster heart that I bought when my wife died, and this emotionally comforts my anguish. When people come, listen to me share, and help with chores, I am mentally comforted by their efforts because it tells me that I’m not alone. 

Look around your neighborhood. It seems that someone is always struggling because of an accident, illness, or chronic disease. People are feeling broken, shut out, and they’re suffering.

This is our opening to provide them with some level of comfort. There are warm hugs of compassion we can wrap around their shoulders. There are words of comfort we can say over cups of coffee. And when words fail, which they often do, we can sit with them and comfort them with our presence.

Dealing with a tragedy on our own is hard. It’s also boring. It’s more interesting to have others along for the ride. The difficulty is that people don’t want to ask for help because they’re taught that they should be strong enough to handle everything on their own. And the people who want to help, don’t, because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing, and want to respect people’s privacy.

The deeper we love someone, the more we will grieve. Death is a community event. It’s time that we start showing up on people’s doorsteps.

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