I’m not the most comforting of souls. I often don’t have the words to say, so I don’t say anything. I think I’ve had the wrong thing said to me so many times that I refuse to be part of that sort of dialogue. This translates to some as my not caring. If they only knew how I weep alongside them in my heart. Alas. People who don’t bother with your heart only know you by their perceptions of you, so carry on.
My lack of knowing what to say or what to do in the face of loss was made fresh this week. A darling aunt said goodbye to a friend. A dear friend said goodbye to a loved one. Another of my tribe is facing medical issues with unknown consequences for the future and so we talk and weep and encourage from afar. Loved ones losing jobs and searching for better. So much loss. So much aching.
“Sorry” feels like a paltry term in such circumstances. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Gag me. After hearing that uttered one too many times by faithful, well-meaning lips, I have decided that funerals and hospice care rooms are the absolute worst places to show off Bible verse memorizing skills.
When I ponder my tribe, I cannot help but pray that they don’t lose. I don’t want them to lose anything: parents, friends, spouses, children, jobs, homes, innocence, joy. I want them to keep everything given to them, everything they have worked for, everything they have desired and have received. They don’t deserve to lose. But then, nothing about loss is fair.
And yet, there is some messy, beautiful grace in loss. Something about it puts some fire in a belly and some compassion in a heart. The “lose-ers” become individuals who have gained. I don’t think they want to hear that, so I won’t tell them just yet. Loss is painful, heart-wrenching, joy-stealing, and very nearly, sometimes totally, life-killing. I have seen it more in my wee 32 years than I ever thought possible and I wish this on no one. Yet we all lose. We are losers. Life, and the fact that it is terminal, demands it.
Back to the messy, beautiful grace bit. It is only after loss, after we’ve waded in it and contemplated it and shouted and cried and come to some sort of uneasy truce within ourselves, that we let it change us. How we let it change us is up to us and the responsibility for that rests on no one but ourselves. Loss can put out a fire or build an inferno, making one a change agent in the world. It can mend a heart or break a back, bring peace or make chaos, eat away at a soul or make it stronger. And that’s where grace comes in.
We cannot control what happens to us or how we lose, but we can control how much grace we give ourselves to learn from it and use the lesson wisely. We can control how much space we give to both the naysayers and the yes-men who hover in difficult times, neither of whom I want around me in loss. We can control the way we surrender to let this grace roll over us and bind our wounds and we can acknowledge and rejoice in the way that it gives us breathing space and hurting space and room to scream when we need to. We can control how long we allow ourselves to wallow and when the world wants us to get up and move on when our tender hearts aren’t yet ready, we can give ourselves the grace to still cry and continue the healing so that it is real and solid and lasting, and not some made-up show to make others feel less awkward about our vulnerability.
I think we need more of this grace, sisters. Grace for others in their times of loss, and grace for ourselves in our own grief. And if you are weeping and I say nothing, know that I’m walking/weeping/hoping with you in spirit because grace is found as much in shared silence as it is in good words. We’re all losers here. And sisters, too.