Last night I spoke at the Pineville Church of Christ on the subject of Moving Forward Through Grief. The Pineville church is served by David Gardner, a capable and kind young man who has a lot of heart and enthusiasm for God’s work there. I thought I wouldn’t know anyone there, but as we always note, the world is small. And the church of Christ world is even smaller. So it was fun to make some connections with friends and I found the church family there to be friendly and warm. Especially the coffee crew – every church has one – they are close to my heart.
But when you have come to talk about grief and walking through the pain of loss, it is not exactly a happy meeting. There were some in the room who have had less than a year on their walk with grief, for others it has been many years. Being the guest speaker in a church you’ve never been with before and talking about such a personal subject, you just never know how you’ll be received. They were wonderful listeners. But the word on my mind as I drove home was ‘common’.
When I have had the opportunity to speak in various contexts about grief I notice that afterward people who have suffered through grief want to share a bit of their story. I appreciate this because it is quite a gift to entrust that story to a stranger. But we’re not total strangers by then, because we have had a common experience.The more grief books I read the more I realize just how common this experience is. And yet there is a need to share it. Somehow this recognition of our common grief provides assurance and hope. Hope that life can be enjoyed again on the other side of grief. Hope that I’m normal, even though I’m hurting all these years later. Hope that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Hope is found in our common pain, recovery, and lingering loss.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ … each one should carry their own load… Let us not become weary in doing good … as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. ~From Galatians 6:2-10
Maybe everybody thinks their grief is worse, more severe, than other people. I don’t find any comfort in that thought. It seems to me that when we recognize that the loss we share and can express that to each other, we are bearing one another’s burden – at least as far as we can. There is a portion of our burden that only we can bear.
I’m thankful for the reminder that I walk a common road, even in my own individualized loss. For those who are walking on this road as well, please remember one of the key mantras of The Compassionate Friends: we need not walk alone.
Thanks for reading, John
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