I keep the names and pictures of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School on my desktop, alongside Thomas, Nick and Ryan, each one a friend of ours who died too young. When I look at these names and faces, mostly I think about their families who will always carry the grief of their loss. Some days, like mine yesterday, get hijacked; unexpected issues arise and I stop to think of those whose lives are forever interrupted.
Grief is unique for every person. Grief is not predictable. Grief encompasses a wide range of emotion, including anger. Even the closest family members and friends may not know what to say in the midst of our grief. We will need to forgive people often for comments that don’t seem to make any sense. We may not be able to express our grief to everyone, but it is vital to find a few people to share it with. Sharing our grief with those who have also endured a loss reminds us that we are not alone.
Perhaps most of all, in a culture whose emphasis is happiness, we need to give ourselves permission to grieve. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thoughts are helpful for me, “When we lose someone we love it is very hard, it is nonsense to say that God fills the gap, rather God leaves it empty so to keep alive our former communion.”
The loss of someone we love is very hard, but grief is good.