Waiting in grief is perhaps the hardest kind of painful. And the darkest and scariest and impossible-seeming cloud is looming large over your head.
I write a lot about grief here, and usually it has been about those suffering and lamenting the final earthly loss of a loved one. Impossible grief.
But there are plenty of other kinds of grief. And dark, scary places. Places where we grieve the loss of the future, the being-trapped-in-the-present, the ending of once-wonderful relationships, the longing of things hoped for, the absence of which leaves you feeling hopeless. Sometimes overwhelmed. Often in the dark. Wondering whether the hope will ever return, wondering why it feels like God has turned a deaf ear and moved away.
These are real-life, reality-based, legitimate kinds of grief. There is loss. Any loss can be accompanied by this kind of darkness, and this feeling of alone-ness, and this perception that we are living solitary. These kinds of losses often seem too private to share. Maybe because of shame, guilt, wrong thinking, believing lies, listening to our inner critic.
And here's a truth: sometimes grief has to be a solitary journey. For a time, for pieces of time, for lengths of time.
But here's another truth: unless we can find people, Jesus with hands and feet kinds of people, the ones who love us during (and maybe in spite of) that dark scary place, we will likely suffer more intensely. We need each other all.the.time, but especially when the burden seems too much to bear.
The Bible tells us of the difference between a burden and a load. We each have our own load, a backpack that belongs solely to us, that we are meant to take responsibility for, that we are not to foist upon others. It's important to know what belongs to us, what is not meant to be shared.
But here's the thing.
Burdens are absolutely meant to be shared, for they are too heavy to carry alone. We need to know that Jesus has offered to not only share but carry that burden. We must believe, also, that there are people, real life come-as-you-are people, loving you even in the dark people, that are meant to help us share our burdens. The burden of things like grief. The things that weigh so heavy that our very bodies feel unable to carry it alone.
When these burdens are shared, something sort of amazing happens. Those burdens feel lighter, hope can blossom in the dark, and comfort that has seemed gone forever is recovered. When we weep with those who weep, there will be a time when we can rejoice with them when they rejoice.
Rejoicing comes in the morning, when the dark is lifted and the sun has risen and even if it's still cloudy and gloomy the sun does indeed rise.
Let's be burden-sharers. Let's not be afraid to be honest in our pain, and let's be willing to help carry that which is impossible for our friends to carry alone. Let's remember that joy and grief are not mutually exclusive, and even in the pain there can be rejoicing. Let's gently be reminders that the sun will come up. And that whether the day is gloomy or bright, light dispels darkness.
We are meant to be light. Let's wait patiently and lovingly in the dark places with our dear ones, and let's be the ones to gently point out the light when it peeks over the horizon.
Gently. Because they can't always see what we see. But whether seen or unseen, it is there, and the light of day allows us to see the full-ness of the burdens they carry, and we can shoulder some of that for them and with them and keep walking them toward the sunrise. At whatever pace they are walking. Don't run ahead of them. Don't blind them. They need you present right where they are. But we must not lose sight of the morning that is coming, the daylight that will return, and the time when we can again rejoice with them.
Love one another. No matter whether it's a season that is as black as the night or as bright as the day, whether it's a cloudy gloomy day or a sunshiny day, we are to love. And love will give a glimmer of hope. We can give a piece of ourselves, can't we? We can choose to enter into the dark with the one who feels hopeless, knowing that as we share the burden we can help them to see that the door is not locked forever, and joy will come in the morning.
Are you living in a dark hopeless place? Can you choose to let the safe people in?
Is a loved one in a pit where the door seems locked? Will you open the door and join them?
Love. Share. Weep. And believe in the joy that will come.
Much love to the grievers,