I heard a story about someone close to us. She went back to work shortly after Beatrix’s death, unhappily, and was accosted by one of her co-workers. The woman was shouting at her, “People say they know, but they don’t know what its like. I know!” I think, from the story, that this woman was trying to comfort her, trying to express compassion, but our friend was just left bewildered and unsure of what to say.
I laughed when I heard this story. Imagining our friend’s uncertainty at how to respond to this odd attempt at comfort, I am amused. But I am also horrified.
This woman has obviously been carrying around a loss for several decades, unable to process it, and is (obviously) unable to reach out to others who are hurting.
Recently while on the road, we listened to a podcast by Rob Bell. I listened to one of his teachings many years ago that has been formative in my thinking about how to be with people who are grieving and suffering. (And I hope has helped me to do so in a better way). The one we listened to recently was so encouraging to the spot we are in right now. It’s called “Making Room for the Immensities.” It is largely about going through suffering and grief. (I know we have people from a wide variety of belief backgrounds here, but I would recommend this one to all of you. Skip the first 2 minutes of announcements and such.)
It also helped as I looked at our plans for the next year or so, some of which don’t seem to make a lot of logical sense. However, this is what it is largely about – going through our grief, so that we can get to the other side. I want our pain to make us kinder, more compassionate – I don’t want to be yelling at people in 20 years because I haven’t gone through the grief.