Grief and the need to ‘do’ something

Our community is in grief at the moment, a teenage lad has died and everyone’s thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Grief is the price of love. It is the ‘cost of commitment’, is how Colin Murray Parkes entitles the opening chapter of his work Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life.

If we love, we grieve, but no one expects to grieve for someone so young.

I have found myself thinking about grief and how younger people react, and I guess the emotions are the same:

I feel so sad

I feel completely empty

I feel incredibly angry

I feel desperately lonely

I wish I hadn’t said those unkind things

I feel afraid, will this happen again?

Will I feel like this forever?

But children are often so good at intuitively knowing they need to ‘do’ something – light a candle, take some flowers, write a message…

I think we all need to ‘do’ something – we can’t think our way through because our minds are a mess – a tumult of thoughts and emotions that we can barely understand. But physically we can ‘do’ something, we can lay a wreath, we can write down a memory, we can sign a book of condolence, we can light a candle, we can attend a funeral. In all these things we find some way of expressing ourselves, even in the depths of the abyss of grief. Personally, I wouldn’t discourage people buying flowers for a funeral because it may help them.

At times of loss I find set prayers really helpful. I don’t really know why but I find such comfort in this prayer:

Support us, O Lord,

all the day long of this troublous life,

until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,

the busy world is hushed,

the fever of life is over

and our work is done.

Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging,

a holy rest, and peace at the last;

through Christ our Lord.

Amen

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