Monday, February 15, 2010

A good friend of mine has been grieving because his best friend committed suicide. My friend has been handling this in what I consider a heroic manner. But grieving can be hard because it’s so unpredictable. Grief does not always behave like you expect it to. It can do weird things to us.

Years ago, when I was 19 and still living at home, my parents were in the kitchen, making dinner or something, when the phone rang. My mom picked up the phone. I didn’t pay much attention until I heard her say...


She said it quietly. It was disturbing. I dropped what I was doing in the next room and walked toward the kitchen. I saw her hand the phone to my dad. While he listened, his face started to change right in front of my eyes. In a moment it went from the face of a grown man to the face of a broken and hurt child. He said, “Alright.” But it wasn’t. He hung up the phone and collapsed into my mom’s arms, weeping. I have never before and never since seen my dad weep like this. Sobbing. Uncontrollable. It scared me.

Two of my dad’s sisters, living in Tennessee, had been driving to work. At some spot on the road, near a school, there had been some ice on the road. They collided with a semi truck and were killed instantly.

A good friend decided to drive me down to Tennessee for the funeral. We drove until we were passing out, then we stopped on the side of the road somewhere and slept in the car. We drove some more. We talked. We observed. We philosophized about life and death. Jack Kerouac would have been proud.

I was nervous about getting there.

When we arrived in Tennessee, I didn’t know how to feel. I think seeing my dad like that had messed me up. Knowing how my aunts had died, so violently, left me not knowing how to respond. Everything about how I felt seemed inappropriate and out of place. I laughed at things I shouldn’t have. I was unintentionally rude. I said things that were outright goofy, which I’m pretty good at regardless. But, more than usual, I was nervous and unsure about what to say to people. I didn’t know how to act. I just felt numb. And I didn’t shed a single tear. It was weird.

We got through it, then the friend took me and we detoured over to the Smoky Mountains for a day. Had a nice time. Headed on home.

Life went on. Time happened. Over a year went by.

I’m sitting in the car with my newish girlfriend. She would later become the wife. We’re talking about different things. Somehow the subject of my aunts and how they died comes up. I start to talk about the trip. I try to explain what I experienced. And, suddenly, I realize that I am broken and I fall apart. Sobbing. Uncontrollable. I wept for my dad and the family. I wept for my aunts. I wept from the center of my strange, inscrutable heart.

For some reason, finally, after all that time, I mourned.

I’ve learned over the years that the process of mourning can heal if we don't let it take possession of us. It can be like a demon, or it can be like a guide. You can let it control you or you can let it take you through the loss to a place of peace. Without mourning we would be emotionally destroyed by our broken world. But we can't belong to the sorrow because we belong to the Creator.

Like love, mourning works to heal us. So we need to grieve over whatever we've given away or whatever has been taken from us, we need to mourn, to confess our loss and, through that expression, begin to move on. It’s okay to weep, to grieve, to mourn. For a time. But it’s also okay to move on. It really is.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Do you see it?

John 11:35; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010


  1. how very true Dave! there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. great post! i've had experiences like that too.

  2. I see it. Thanks for the mention and link.


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