COMMUNITY is an integral word for the church. It gathers and makes space for the afflicted to grieve their losses, under the unction of healing in Christ’s name.
Community gets no better than when the grieving are simply allowed to grieve in a way that is pertinent and appropriate for them.
Every grief response to loss belongs.
Here are some model grief responses to loss:
· For some, the pain of grief is all too near, all too imminent, all too large, all too sudden and shocking. There isn’t the capacity to press in. Such a response for such a time is okay. What may seem to outsiders as denial can be a vital protection. These need space to process internally, with support available to them.
· For others, there just has to be expression. They need people to listen; to withhold their well-intentioned advice. Gentle affirmation is more valuable than advice. These need space to let it all out.
· For some others, acknowledgement is crucial; that the loss is real and ought to be named and recognised. These need space to present before others the embodiment of their reality.
· Others furthermore feel nothing and ought not to feel guilty. Why, there might be a delay to grief. And if there isn’t, isn’t that good? Some are gifted with neither pain nor guilt. These need space to be allowed to move on with their lives without assertions that are designed to breed guilt.
And then, in most grief experiences, there are the myriad responses. Like colours of the rainbow and all shades between.
Wise is the person who does not condemn their own grief response. And wise are the people who are aware of their judging others, who quickly chide themselves and allow the grieving person the latitude of grace they need.
What we’re agreeing with here is the grieving person sets the rules for our engagement with them. We’re also affirmed for gently affirming them; making sure our response is adaptable to their state of being.
What is most important in our response to loss is being dignified in our response.
Only we know how we think and feel about and process our grief. Others are to be afforded the same dignity.
As all grief is real, all responses are appropriate, commensurate with the pain we experience. It only grieves the spirit in us more when we’re told we’re doing grief wrong.