1. The Sorrow of Loss
“She who was once great among the nations ..." [Lamentations 1:1. NLT]
The poet laments the loss that Israel has faced. She was once prosperous and blessed. Now she lies in ruins. She has lost everything.
Loss is something we can all identify with - the loss of a loved one, of friendship, or relationship, employment, position, culture, roots, health, or trust. Facing loss is devastating. To work through loss is a journey, not an event. There are no straight-forward answers and no time-lines. What certainly doesn’t help is people telling us to “just get over it” or “have more faith”.
There are some phases of grief that people generally walk through and that are helpful to understand:
a. Shock and denial — this stage is characterized by feelings of numbness, disbelief, or confusion.
b. Anger — this anger may be expressed through things such as blame, guilt, frustration, fear, or resentment.
c. Depression — overwhelming emotions can cause things such as fatigue, lack of motivation, desperation, agitation, restlessness, or feelings of isolation.
d. Acceptance — this final stage comes slowly and only after people are able to reach out, talk about their experiences, find new meaning, explore new options, focus, and put a new plan for their life in place.
For ones supporting people that are facing loss a few thoughts: choose your words wisely, don’t feel you need to have an answer for everything and don’t feel you need to defend God (He is quite capable of that Himself). Just be there. Be practical. Just love them. Don’t try out your profound theological reflections like Job’s three friends did. The best thing they did was sit with him and shut up.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. [Henri Nouwen]
The Poet laments his loss. He is not deluded into some positive confession exercise. Loss stares him in the face in the most gruesome way and his response is one of sorrow and grief. Maybe Christians would be a lot healthier if they understood the process of grief and gave one another permission to lament the many losses we face in life.
[Guest post by Nicole Conner]