We didn’t want to go. We really didn’t. And there we were feeling like fish out of water, just looking at each other, when this gentleman approaches and introduces himself. The rest is history.
We were at a birthday celebration for a dear young woman. And though we felt out of place, having lost our little girl of the same age, there was a strange sense that we really had to be there. Even if we hardly felt comfortable. We were honouring our daughter’s memory.
We did not know what to expect. We tried as we entered to smile at others as they greeted us, but every time we looked at each other we frowned at our fakeness. And yet, we had this strange sense that we had to try. If we had to be there, we had to try. We must. For our daughter.
As we stood there, like silly stunned mullets, James approached. Of course, James is not his real name. We want to protect his identity. But he was a godsend. If God knew the unspoken, unconscious prayer of our heart, and He certainly does, our Lord knew precisely what we needed. And that was the kind of distraction that this man and his conversation was to us.
Do you know what we talked about?
… we talked about grief.
And it wasn’t hard or agonising or cliched. It wasn’t a trying experience, neither was a traumatic. Oh, how trying and traumatic and hard and agonising and cliched previous experiences of discussions on grief has been! We could have throttled some do-gooders!
We have grown so tired of having to explain ourselves and why we grieve the way we do or correct others as they traipse over our moral corpses. We have grown so tired of bearing our burden without support just so others are comfortable. We have just grown so tired!
And yet, there walks James, over toward us, a man with eternity in his eyes, a person who already seems to know our daughter, a spiritual being ready to roll his sleeves up and listen. He was so interested in us, and for all the right reasons. It was as if we were the only people in the room. How did he know what we needed? Well, our faith tells us that God knew, and we praise God for this man.
During a two-hour conversation, spending time sharing glimpses into each other’s losses, trusting each other more and more, and finding that God had already gone before us all, we left that party transformed and imbued with spiritual confidence. We are ready to trust God more!
We shared for some time about the myriad nuances in grief, about the parts of it we never want healed, about the presence of our loved ones in heaven waiting there for us, about the role of guilt and anger, and about all sorts of stories that emerged, amongst so much more.
Oh, how good are You, God, that as we walked in terrified about what the next few hours might require of us, You walked before us and prepared this man for us to chat to. Thank You, Lord, for the stories within his loss, for his gentle availability of brokenness, and his yieldedness to courageous vulnerability.
Thank You, Lord, that You showed us tonight that we are not alone, that there are many who suffer the loss of loved ones, who understand and ‘get it’ when we cannot explain how we feel, and who accept us and the mystery for what we are, and it is.
Thank You, Lord, that we could agree we cannot fix this grief; that we can only accept what our lives have become; that there is peace in that.
This is a story of true grief told from another person’s perspective through my pen.