- Each drop weighs more than a full bucket. To release them brings lightness. But they return. And the process continues until the day when you notice they aren’t as heavy as they used to be.
Yesterday I spent half an hour sitting in my truck. I was in the parking lot in front of Cox Cable in Fayetteville. I could not drive because I was weeping. For twenty minutes I sat alone grieving the greatest loss of my life. We buried my mother a month ago. Perhaps it was submitting a death certificate to cancel her cable service or the kind words from the clerk or just because it was time. I have been too busy to grieve. Suddenly it hit like a tidal wave.
Gary Siller was in my youth Sunday School class at the Methodist church we attended when I was a kid. Gary was the kind of boy who mowed lawns to make money, but tied his wagon to a self-propelled mower so he didn’t have to walk. Gary was a firm believer in short-cuts. Every week in Sunday School we got LifeSavers if we could quote an entire Bible verse from memory. And every week, without fail, Gary would say “Jesus wept” and, with a smirk on his face, grab his candy.
You may know that I facilitate a Grieving Parents Support Group. On the second Monday of the month, from 6:00-7:15, we offer a safe place for these parents to come and gather with people who understand. At our most recent meeting, I closed our time together by telling the group what amazing people they are. Not amazing because of their tragedy, but amazing because of their honesty and courage. They have chosen to face their grief – not running from it, drowning it, narcotizing it or ignoring it. Each month I am humbled by the people who come to this group. They are the “realest” people I know.
As we learn more about the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, I stumbled on something called “heavy water.” Though not radioactive, heavy water is used in nuclear reactors and, as you might have guessed, is heavier and denser than regular water.
Tears are like that. Heavy. Dense. In my own life and ministry, I’ve learned that uncried tears are heavy. It is a burden to carry them day after day. They can wear you down – until they are unloaded. For those of us who don’t cry easily, the long-term effects can be exhaustion, apathy and even physical and mental health problems. How many problems in our lives are related to grief we need to address? But God gave us tears and in our grieving, despite how gradually, there comes relief. Our tears, like our grief, need attention.
In many cases our grief won’t just go away either. Thirty-five years after his daughter committed suicide, my step-father found a grieving parents group. Some losses we carry our entire lives, and the need to grieve will always beckon.
If I try to short-cut the grieving I need to do, for whatever reason, I find myself feeling detached, tired, prone to anger and generally less alive. But when I grieve my life begins to feel restored and back in order. I guess that is what I notice about my friends who gather each month to attend to their own deep grief.
Perhaps you have lost a child, parent, sibling or a friend. Or you have suffered the end of a meaningful relationship. Or you have lost your grip on a life-long dream. Or maybe you have been overwhelmed by a string of difficult circumstances. If you have experienced anything that has brought you sadness or disappointment there is a scripture I’d like for you to know about – and it’s the shortest verse in the entire Bible…