Edith Eger lost her parents in Auschwitz and now tells us grief is not as much about what happened, but what didn’t happen. Maybe for her, it’s not that the Nazi’s killed her parents, but that she wasn’t able to grow up with them. I’ve thought about my own life and how I feel saddest about the safety I didn’t enjoy and the affection I longed for. The mistreatment was bad, but the good things that weren’t available left the largest ache.
When a parent loses a child, a person loses a friend, a child loses a sibling, what they grieve is years together. The future they’d hoped for is suddenly gone. And grief has so many shades. Here in the pandemic, we have losses of all kinds: financial catastrophe, cancelled events, time with friends, our marriage or our sobriety. In this moment, we are all grieving something and one thing our culture is not great at is grieving.
Our culture promotes productivity and grieving is not productive, so it gets pushed along, hurried and devalued. But grief is the final chapter of love. Once you’ve lost someone, the only way you can relate to them is through grief. If we try to take grief from people, we are unwittingly trying to sever the thread that connects them to the person they loved and lost.
Grief should be honored and tended to, not rushed.
Jesus took time for grief even when he was about to put life back in Lazarus’ lungs. He paused and cried as He ached for Lazarus’ presence. Maybe He did that so we could see it’s best to grieve and it’s even good to express grief publicly. Great grief is a sign of great love. Edith also says that love is a four letter word spelled, T-I-M-E. Allow time for grief in yourself and others, because it is love.