During the course of my lifetime I have seen many topics dragged from behind closed doors out onto the stage and under the public spotlight.
Frankly, some of them could have remained in darkness as far as I’m concerned.
But there is something still taboo in polite conversation–something hushed with awkward silence should it ever be spoken aloud in a crowded room–mention GRIEF and eyes drop to the floor or someone hastily throws an arm around you and says, “There, there–it’s going to be alright.”
I don’t blame them.
In my growing up years I don’t remember anyone speaking about death and grief for longer than the time it took to go to a funeral home visitation and stand by the grave as the casket was lowered in the ground. People were designated by their loss: He was a widower; she lost a child; her mother died when she was young.
But what came AFTER the loss–not a word.
We need to talk about it. We need to educate ourselves about it. Because, like my EMT son says, “No one gets out of here alive.”
You WILL experience grief in your lifetime.
I pray that the people you lose are full of years and ready to go–that you get to say “good-bye” and that all the important things have been said and done so that you aren’t left with extra emotional baggage in addition to the sorrow and missing.
But you never know. Neither you nor I are in control.
And even in the one place where it would seem most natural to talk about life and death and grief and pain–our churches–it still makes those who are not experiencing it uncomfortable.
Yes, there are grief support groups. And, yes, they are helpful in ways that only a group made up of people who understand by experience what you are going through can be.
But much of life is spent rubbing elbows with folks unlike ourselves, with parents who know the fear of losing a child but not the awful reality. And just a little bit of openness, a little bit of education and a little bit of understanding would make such a difference.
So for the next few days I am going to be posting about the grief process itself. About what grieving parents experience and how friends, family, co-workers and churches can support them.
If you are a grieving parent, I hope these posts will serve as a launchpad for you to have conversations with your own friends and extended family. If you aren’t a bereaved parent, please commit just the few minutes it takes and consider how you might support someone in your circle of influence who has lost a child.
We don’t want pity.
We aren’t looking for special accomodations that single us out and mark us as “needy”. But we long for understanding and compassion and the opportunity to tell our stories.