Grief is a journey of solitude. We who grieve do find consolation among other grievers which does help ease our burden. However, since no two grieve in precisely the same manner, there will always exist a degree of loneliness in what we suffer. Every relationship between the one who grieves and the one who has passed on is unique. The degree of ‘closeness’ varies; the degree of Love varies. There are an infinite amount of variables that exist.
Our grief becomes compounded when folks begin to avoid us and treat us as if we have a contagious disease. We feel ostracized and ‘outside the camp’. In the Book of Leviticus, chapter 13, it states that a person with leprosy was to wear ‘torn clothes’. When Jacob believed his son had been killed, he tore his clothes (Gen. 37:34). There are similarities. Folks who have contracted leprosy will gather together and live in colonies, separate from the rest. In some manner, to some degree, so do grievers. Society often rejects both. Even when we have family and friends that are supportive, the anguish and excruciating pain that we must endure will isolate us in the midst of a crowd.
In the last conversation I had with my dad one week before he passed on from cancer, he said to me: “I feel better than I look” to which I quickly responded: “I look better than I feel”. We locked in a deep stare into one another’s eyes and no more words were necessary. We understood one another on a level which no one else could penetrate. We hugged one another, shared our: “I love you”, then said our last ‘good-bye’. My dad passed away peacefully not long after my son.
The depth of our sorrow has a way of cleansing us from all facades. Though we fight it and work hard at presenting ourselves to others that we are: ‘fine’, if another would care enough to take the time to peer just a bit deeper into our eyes, our facade quickly vanishes. Our soul is laid bare; our anguish is exposed. Sadly, not many will take that time. Most prefer to accept: ‘I’m fine’…hug-hug…’Talk to you soon’…and quickly turn to walk away.
Jesus responded differently to lepers than the society as a whole. In Mathew 8, a man with leprosy approached Him. Others would have quickly scattered, refusing to interact or engage in fear that they would contract something. Not Jesus, though. Instead, Jesus ‘reached out his hand and touched the man’. What Love and Compassion we see depicted in this single moment. He touched the untouchable. He reached out to the ostracized. Then, he healed the man. Even if He had not physically healed the man, I’m convinced his heart and soul would have been healed simply by such an act of kindness opposed to the rejection this man must have become accustomed to receiving from folks in his darkest hour of despair.
When our Lord’s good friend, Lazarus, had died, Jesus must have known that He would be raising him from the dead. Yet, we read that when Jesus saw the pain and anguish of those who were grieving: ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35). It is the shortest verse in the entire Bible, yet possibly the most profound. It doesn’t take much for a griever to be lifted from the mire of solitude. Grief does not demand words. It simply requests to be seen, to be ‘touched’, to be acknowledged if only for a moment. The walls of solitude and isolation cannot withstand the kindness of a compassionate soul of another. In an instant, a healing balm of Love extended, can soothe a griever’s weary soul. It may only last for an instant, but it is enough to turn one’s despair into a droplet of Hope. A truly thirsty individual greatly appreciates even one drop of such cleansing water.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Also a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/2017/03/the-pain-of-holidays-after-the-loss-of-loved-ones/