An Open Letter to the Grieving – from the Body of Christ
Part Two: Promise
To the grieving, the afflicted, the soul-sorrowed, the broken-hearted and the burdened:
We grieve with you.
We promise not to dismiss or minimize the paralyzing pain of your grief. We acknowledge it is your whole life right now.
We promise not to forget that your grief continues when our lives return to normal. We may attend the funeral and provide a week or two of faithful checking in. Forgive us when we forget that you remain in the midst of real agony.
We promise to allow you space while not allowing you to retreat into isolation. Your pain will make you want you to disappear, to hole up, stay in bed and let the darkness overtake you. We promise not to leave you there, while respecting, some days, you will need just that.
We promise not to cloud your grief with platitudes… words that sound so much like truth, yet void of sincerity and gospel. We promise to be quick to listen, slow to speak. We promise to learn the art of silence, creating safe spaces for you speak.
We promise not to judge what escapes your grieving heart. If we have never stood in the deep mud of shattering grief, we will still our hearts in silence.
We promise not to preach to your pain. We promise to point you to Jesus with gentleness and love. His is the love with power to heal, though we know healing may not happen within the immediate sorrow. Healing is the slow process of learning to live again, to breathe again, to believe in the possibility of joy again. We will pray, knowing that Jesus will lead you far better than we could.
We promise to not rush you. We promise not to stamp your timeline of grief with our own concepts of the preferred brevity of grief. We acknowledge that this will change you irrevocably. Grief takes time. A lot of time. We promise to hold back our judgement and give you the gift of time.
We promise not to trivialize your need for ceremony and memorial. We know that, for some, this has immense meaning and value. We know that you will use these as ways to remember, to soothe your soul, though it may not be the means that we would use.
We promise not to make your grief a subject for gossip. It’s so easy to express our ‘concerns’ to others. We promise to bring our concerns to our Saviour, not our social gatherings. We will not prescribe to others what you need to do while lacking the courage to stand before your grief and share its burden.
We promise to be available when you are ready to try embrace life again.
We promise to see the effort it takes to find a normal in the midst of deep sorrow. To make meals, host friends, attend family gatherings. We promise to be aware of the exertion and subsequent exhaustion, that you may need days to recover. We promise to check in without expecting a response.
We promise to remember your loved one with you. We promise to curate memories of your loved one so that when you remember we can do the same. We can comfort you with the knowledge that we, too, miss your loved one.
We promise not to minimize intangible grief. We may not understand it since there was no funeral, no body, no closure. We may not walk that particular road of grief, but we promise to acknowledge it with the weight and solemnity it deserves.
We promise to pocket our wisdom in favour of gentleness.
We promise to speak the Words of God rather than our own.
We promise to pray. Long, hard, often.
We promise to extend effort within the space of your grief. We feel hopeless and powerless but we will not be lethargic in our aid. We will find ways within the scope of our spiritual gifts to be present for you, in the ways that serve you best.
We are human and fallible. We will mess this up. We will blunder. Our words will unintentionally hurt you. Our love for you will not perfectly imitate the compassion and mercy of your sympathetic Saviour, regardless of our longing.
Forgive us, please. Allow us to try again, to learn from our errors, to grow in mercy and grace.
For you. And for the countless others that need us to live from these promises. We are the Body. In Him, and Him alone, we will strive daily to live and serve from His incomparable, boundless love.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3