“I am convinced that learning the delicate art of grieving comes mostly through being minstered to by mature people during our own times of grief and through years of practice.” ~Carson Kistner
When I was a sophmore in college my roommate’s (and very dear friend), mother killed herself. It was horrible, which is a complete understatement. Tragic. Awful. Terrible. I remember almost every detail of her telling me what happened, driving her home with another friend, being at her house, going to the service and her coming back to school and the months until the year was over. It was a HARD semester. I couldn’t wait to get home. Selfishly. My dear friend had gone through the worst thing ever! Myself and another friend had walked beside her knowing her pain, but not totally grasping it all. It was a tough thing to wrap our head around, and honestly there are days I’m still not totally sure that I get it.
I had never really had to “deal” with death until my roommate’s mom died. Before it had been the elderly at church, and I remember a couple of children who had been ill for a long time passing away. But this time, it was real, it was close, and it was very personal to one of my best friends in college. I saw her pain and I cried with her and started to ask, “Why would a person do that? Why?”
I had never dealt with anyone who had grieved before and I don’t think I handled it all that well. I know that there were many times that I was selfish and unwise in my responses to her. I was not mature.
Now that time has passed I can see more of what she may have been feeling, and I feel badly that maybe I could’ve helped her more. We still stay in touch and talk to one another and hopefully we’ve both matured over time.
The quote at the top of the page struck me the first time I read it. I reread it a couple of times to let it sink in. It’s full of wisdom and I think it’s also something that we rarely think about. What I mean is, do we ever think about a ministry to the grieving? I had never thought about that until I read this. Is this something that Jesus did? Yes, look at the death of Lazarus. He ministered greatly to Mary and Martha during that short time. He was even comforting His mother from the cross. Making sure she was taken care of by John. And I’m sure that there were many other times not mentioned. If Jesus did it, then we should as well.
When I first think of grieving, I think of death. Usually the death of a person. However, I also think that grieving can be the loss of a job, expectations that we had that won’t be met, an opportunity that was missed, or won’t be had and relationships that have fallen apart. It wasn’t until Tullie was about 3 months old, I realized I had been grieving. I hadn’t been grieving Tullie, but I had been grieving her diagnosis. I had been grieving the expectations that I had for my daughter. The typical daughter that we had expected. The daughter that wasn’t going to have any issues and she was going to grow up and be like all the other kids. I didn’t think that it was ok to grieve that, but I had to. Down Syndrome is something that we did not expect. It blew the wind out of our sails and we were floored, to say the least. BUT, it’s what we got. We grieved our expectations. I’m not saying that there are no more days of struggle, because there are, it’s just different then when we got the news four years ago. Time has passed. Our hearts have healed. Tullie is a blessing and a joy in our lives. Jesus knew how He would change us.
When I think of mature, I think of old white haired ladies that have lived a long life, love Jesus and are ready to share their experiences then go to heaven. I don’t think of young folk. But I’ve learned that sometimes the youngest folks can be more mature then the older folks. I’ve noticed that some of my friends who have ministered to me the most have been younger then me. It’s because they’ve become mature through their experiences. They’ve grieved and they’ve learned. They’re ready to share and they do. I’m not saying that I don’t know older and wiser woman who have had a great impact during my times of grief, because I do. I know many and I’ve been ministered to by many.
I think that one of the things to remember is that grief is not bad. A period for grieving anything is not bad. In our society we don’t know how to grieve. We don’t know how to really face our pain and deal with it. Whatever it may be. When we let ourselves grieve and allow those who have grieved before us to help, the weight seems a little lighter.
The portion of that quote that I don’t like is, “….through years of practice.” I have no desire to have years of practice of grieving, but I don’t think I would be saved from that. Each time we grieve and heal, we have more to share with others who are grieving. We have more to give. I would prefer to have a griefless life, but that has not been the case. Instead, for those of us who have grieved, we must learn and we must help those who are in the thick of it. Simply because Jesus did. He wasn’t selfish and kept all of his pain and sorrow to Himself while He was here on earth. He had words of comfort for the grieving and He asked His disciples to pray for Him when He was grieving and hurting before He went to the cross for us.
We will grieve in this life and hopefully we will suffer well with Jesus’ help and the help of His children who have grieved before us.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” I Peter 1:3-9