Grief makes people uncomfortable.
Well isn't that just the understatement of the century?
But it is the truth. Grief, whether it be your own or belonging to someone else, makes one uncomfortable in such an intangible way. When my mother died, I didn't really know how I felt exactly, but I knew that what was going on inside of me made me feel uncomfortable and out of place everywhere I went. Everywhere. The only place I felt at peace was in my own home. And I would imagine that there are a lot of grieving people, like my father perhaps, that don't even have that luxury. For him, home is the place where the bulk of memories of the lost loved one can be found.
Just last week, I encountered a situation in which I was around a mother in the very, very early stages of grief, having just loss her thirteen month old baby girl. When she walked into the room, I immediately felt that same uncomfortable feeling I had in the months after my mother's death. I had no expectation to feel this way as this is a woman I barely even know, but it hit me hard, and I wanted to run. But I knew I was right where I needed to be, that God had brought this moment into my life to help and teach me. I had a little talk with myself, "It's not about my feelings. This is about her loss. The best thing I can do for her in this moment is hug her and tell her I am praying for her." And that is exactly what I did.
Because, I feel - don't know for a fact, don't have any Scriptural proof, but believe because I have experienced it in a real way several times in my life - that in these moments with others we may not even know on a very intimate level, that our souls connect. Her soul, in that one hug, could feel that I hurt for her, that I understood grief in a real way in my heart, that I had compassion for her. Perhaps you may think I am crazy or being dramatic or misguided in my feelings, but I still believe it to be true. If the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and relates our prayers to the Lord (Romans 8:26), then why would He stop short of helping us to communicate in a similar way to others?
Truth is, there are moments when no words are needed or there are simply no appropriate words to offer. What should I say to a mother who has lost her baby girl in the physical world? What can I say? There are no words powerful enough to take her pain away, none soothing enough to wipe away her grief. But I know, through the experience of losing my Mama that all one needs to do is offer a genuine hug and the promise of prayer. Those two things, those very simple things, mean so much more to a hurting heart than a sound bite about your loved one being better off.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that grief makes us all uncomfortable. It forces us to ponder our own mortality, our beliefs, our faith. But why do we as humans want to be comfortable all the time? Grief is a part of life. It falls into the not-so-pretty category, but it is still a part of life.
Scott and I were watching a documentary on war in which the soldiers were the commentators and the footage was filmed by the combat crew. One of the soldiers made a point that stuck with me. He said (and this is my very loose paraphrase), "When the shots start firing, your first inclination is to stop. But that's what the enemy wants you to do so they can ambush you." What I take from his recount of a war situation is that when we are confronted with an uncomfortable situation, such as being in the presence of someone deep in the throes of grief, we should fight through that fear of feeling uneasy, of saying the wrong thing, of appearing too vulnerable. We should think more of the other person than of our self. We should use that opportunity to do what Christ would do.