Living through the seasons of grief.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book following the death of his wife, entitled A Grief Observed. The reader has a unique opportunity to look inside the heart and mind of Lewis and observe his excruciatingly personal journey through grief. There are few classes on death and dying, or grief and bereavement. We have so few places to go to understand this strange and yet globally shared experience. This past weekend we surrounded a hurting family at the memorial for a 24 year old, son, brother, grandson, cousin, and friend. It so happened that I sat where I could watch the family respond throughout the service. Heart wrenching only begins to describe the scene. Words were void as I observed a couple embrace, change places to hold an adult son or daughter, change places again to hold each other, and weep uncontrollably, as they absorbed the magnitude of the hole in their hearts for the missing son/brother. It occurred to me that we learn how to grieve as we observe others grieving. I keep thinking about the power, purpose and impact of observing one another’s grief. The family we watched showed us that tears are good, necessary, cleansing, exhausting, and filled with love. The family we watched taught me that standing during a touching or powerful piece of music was their best expression of agreeing with its message and meaning. I was reminded that God’s grace is greater than our pain. His goodness is more enduring than our loss. And hope encourages the most extreme despair. I learned that as painful as it was to watch this grieving family, it was a model for me to further develop my own grief awareness and preparation for that season whenever bereavement should come my way again. Let us be willing to observe, look deeply into the eyes of the bereaved, and learn from their pain so we will be better able to live through our own.