At a friend’s home recently, I had the privilege of becoming acquainted with a dear woman who is 94 years young. As we were seated together in a cozy spot, she began to tell me about herself. It wasn’t too long before she related to me that her daughter had passed away.
But then she paused, looked intently at me and said, “ You probably have never known the loss of an adult child.”
I quietly responded back that, as a matter of fact, I had.
Then she leaned forward slightly and said, “Then you know how I feel. “
We were two women, strangers, yet now kindred sisters in this thing called grief. Age difference was of no importance; neither were details. We related to one another in the knowledge of what loss feels like.
She found in me the same chord resonating within her. She knew she could pour out and I would understand. There was freedom that needed no explanation.
In these last six years of working through my son’s death, I’ve met others like her. Some have been in unusual places I never would of imagined, often hidden behind smiles and laughter.
God tells us we are to weep with those who weep. We aren’t told to give advice, or even answers, but simply to weep with.
When we take the time to listen quietly, it can be like this very thing, this weeping. We identify with the one hurting, and in some tangible way we enter into their grief, and can share their sorrow.
And who is better qualified than those of us who have experienced the death of a loved one. This was not something we wanted, this thorn of loss. But what do we do with it?
Maybe something just as simple as listening to the pain of others. We can give this gift of empathy because we ourselves have had others do this for us. And even if no one did, we can be the one who does.
When I decided to write a book about our son and open my grief to the world, it was a hard decision. To share and relive in writing all the raw happenings, and perhaps make myself even more vulnerable, was in some ways risky. A great deal of hurt I wanted to hide, not broadcast.
But the choice to do this regardless, outweighed the risk. I hoped that it would help others, and I have found this to be true. I had to make the choice to take my grief and embrace it in such a way that good could flow from it. And I have experienced countless blessings as a result in the many people I’ve met.
Grief can become something that can harden us, embitter us. Yet when we allow it to move us with compassion toward other hurting ones, we find our own pain has lessened, and the joy in weeping with those who weep brings healing.