Last night we began a new GriefShare series. I can’t remember exactly how many times I’ve been through the series now, but several. Seventeen souls huddled in a room drawn together by a familiar pain … someone is gone. It hurts. We search to explain and understand. The stories are different, but even so there is a common experience here.
I remember the first time I sat through GriefShare. Royce and Carol Ogle were doing their best to coax us along on our grief journey. I remember sitting there watching the DVD. These ‘experts’ were talking so assuredly about grief and my world had fallen apart. They seemed calm, but my emotions were crashing. It was all I could do to sit there without crumpling into a tearful mess. I don’t know why I didn’t. Hard as it was to go through that, I think it was an essential part of my healing process. Also participating in The Compassionate Friends … same feelings … same reactions … but it helped me.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. ~Isaiah 53:3
Isaiah’s description of Jesus Christ reminds me that Jesus is familiar with pain. I doubt I can comprehend the vast pain that he felt physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But I do not doubt that he comprehends my pain. Notice in that verse the reaction of people to pain and suffering. We want to turn the channel, close our eyes, and try not to be aware. Grieving people often report the loss of friends during their time of greatest loss.
So it’s important to gather together with those who share the familiar pain of bereavement. The videos are very good. The meeting place is nice. The refreshments are fine. Maybe the most important thing, though, is to have your pain recognized by someone who is familiar with it. To hear from another that there is hope.
As I looked around the room tonight, the first time that this particular group of people had met, I saw that there was the beginning of a breakthrough. It will come slowly. There will be some emptied boxes of tissue, some eyes closed with tears escaping, clenched fists and warm hugs… a kind of rebirth back into real life. A life without a loved one, but where memories do not feel so jaggedly painful. I am thankful to witness this. It reminds me that our familiar pain is not the end of the story.
Thanks for reading, John.
Here are some books that have been recommended to me recently.
Life after Art: What You Forgot About Life and Faith Since You Left the Art Room by Matt Appling