When the community comes together,
In a graphic presence of grief,
Palpable, the communal tether,
As they grapple with what’s beyond belief.
A loved one taken from them,
A mentor and colleague,
This life’s now a requiem,
And now just feel the fatigue!
Tear-stained cheeks and puffy eyes,
Cannot hide the pain,
Why has this wrong occurred?
Our mate no longer to remain!
Brave faces and kind mumblings,
And a solemn silence to bear,
Together we bear these soul rumblings,
Together we will, for each other, care.
PRAYERS and pubs do not ordinarily mix, but recently I had the privilege of praying a pastoral prayer at a bar, where a throng gathered in respectful solemnity, in honour of the loss of a community figure of larger-than-life stature. I prayed with the drinkers, with children, with sports people, and coaches. And we all lamented together the loss of a great soul.
When we are grieving a loss it is true grief, because that person cannot be returned to us. We are forced to adjust to something we do not wish to adjust to. We are forced to make a choice as to whether we will adjust or resist, but we find out that resistance is inherently frustrating and ultimately futile. The message of life is that grief is the response to love, when love has done its work in the completed sense – when such love, as it was, is no more.
Grief, then, is the manifestation of losing what was loved. Grief is inherent in pain.
There are some losses that don’t involve communal grief, but many do, including the common familial grief. When a family loses a patriarch or matriarch, or a dear son or daughter, there is a family response; an outpouring that recognises the vastness of the loss. So it is a hard reality for someone who cannot grieve in a communal way; for someone who must go it alone. They will need external support.
Communal grief is both beautiful and tragic: beautiful because there is love and caring support and one may be there for the other when the other is suffering. But it is also tragic as one person’s grief reminds another of theirs. And it is the human response to shy away from public demonstrations of emotion that produce feelings of inadequacy, weakness, or shame.
When a community figure dies there is an outpouring of grief, and that outpouring can help people understand that the grief process is unique for everyone. Grief is what it is, and our emotional responses should never be judged, just accepted. Many things cannot be explained and do not need to be explained.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.