Thank you all for your kind comments. We have been amazed to discover the comfort of knowing that there are many who are grieving with us.
Why is it that our society has no ritual of mourning? With all you hear about “healthy grief” from our culture of psychobabble we are surprisingly embarrassed when faced with deep suffering and sorrow. You are expected to have your few moments of tears and then, apparently, get on with life. It’s best to move on – get back into the swing of things – do all you can to feel normal again. There are things to do, money to be made, holidays to take and the endless pursuit of life in our great American society.
Tears are embarrassing. Grief is awkward. Suffering is much better kept to oneself. After all, one would not want to upset the American philosophy that laughter heals everything. Too much sorrow will simply bring your spirits down. And low spirits is the worst possible affliction in our society.
When Jacob, the great Patriarch, died, all of Egypt mourned him for 70 days. When Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel, died, the people mourned him for 30 days. You read about people in the Bible tearing their clothes and wearing “sackcloth and ashes” to demonstrate sorrow, sometimes sorrow for their own sin and sometimes for death. In fact, when Ezekiel’s wife died he was told by the Lord explicitly that he was not allowed to mourn her. This was a break from the norm, a shocking symbol to the people of Israel that all was not right. Grief was given ritual significance in the society. Even as late as the early 1900s, England had ritualized periods of mourning and grief.
Why is it that we have lost this tradition? Why do we deceive ourselves and think that somehow if grief is ignored it will lessen or, better yet, completely disappear. One used to wear black for a period of time after losing someone, a sign to everyone around that all was not right – with you or with the world. I hate that everyone looks at me and everything seems “alright.”
We lose so much when we do not grieve. In our desperate pursuit of “happiness” we never recognize how much is to be learned and gained in grieving. I have had the most sacred conversations of my life in this last month. I have found the precious love of my Savior to be more deep and more wide than I had ever imagined. And I have discovered a whole host of saints who have suffered, grieved and at last triumphed in their battle to believe and affirm God’s good purposes.
Would it not be better to have some outward demonstration of the inward reality that one’s heart is buried in sorrow, that everything is not okay? Wouldn’t it be a good thing to be often reminded that the world is not as it should be? That all is not well? Would we not then learn somehow not only to suffer alongside of each other but to be more ready ourselves to dig in the ashes of grief and uncover the gold that is buried there?