When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping,
he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.
He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on grief lately.
I’m not sure how or why this theme emerged, but I’m going to take it as a hint.
And I’m pretty sure it’s a hint that I’ve got some learning to do.
In some way or another we’ve all lost someone or something dear to us.
For a lot of us, our earliest memories of grief are losing pets or grandparents.
Sometime it’s a parent, or sibling, friend, or child.
No matter who we lose, no matter how close we are to it, it’s ours.
Grief is personal.
One of my favorites, Glennon Doyle Melton, said that “Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: look! Love was once mine. I loved well. Here’s my proof that I paid the price.”
Grief is real.
The pain of losing someone we love is real.
It’s real and not bad.
And yet, when someone close to us is the one grieving, we don’t always handle it that well.
See, I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t know how to grieve.
And since we don’t know how to grieve, we don’t know how to experience someone else’s grief.
It makes us uncomfortable.
I might even go so far as to say we’re afraid of it.
And instead of seeing it or acknowledging it or even feeling it,
We hide from it, push past it, ignore it, and even explain it away.
That’s the way of the world.
But it doesn’t have to be this way…
So today I’m taking the hint, and asking you Uplifters to join me in committing to learn how to be a better griever.
And I think the best place to start is with the one who experienced life in all it’s joy and sorrows.
(you know, Jesus)
Jesus comes to visit his friends Mary and Martha and Lazarus and arrives to hear that Lazarus has died.
So there He is, with people who have just lost a family member.
Jesus is literally staring grief in the face.
And what does he say?
Jesus says nothing.
He doesn’t say “He’s in a better place.” – though one might imagine that if anyone could say this and know what he’s talking about, it would be JESUS.
He doesn’t say “Everything happens for a reason” – again, if anyone could give the “reason” in this moment, it would be the Son of God.
Jesus says nothing.
He sits down and cries.
He stares grief in the face and instead of getting uncomfortable and trying to fix it or make it go away he just joins them right there in the middle of it.
What if this is how all we handled grief?
What if we actually just said to someone who is grieving: “I’m so sorry – there are no words here – this sucks- I see your pain, and you’re not alone”
In her book Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton (again) said “people who are hurting don’t need avoiders, protectors or fixers. What we need are patient, loving witnesses. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpless vigil to our pain.”
That can be us you guys.
We can do it.
We can commit to standing in vigil for each other when we’re hurting.
We can remind people that it’s ok.
Grief is real, and it’s ok.
Should I say it again?
Grief is real and it’s ok.
And it’s ok to not be ok.
If the Son of God can take a moment to cry with his friends before, I don’t know, raising the guy from the dead, then I think we can at least try not to say things to “make it better.”
We can sit with people in their grief.
Just like Jesus sat with those grieving friends then.
Just like God has promised to sit with us.
Whenever we need it.