You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.
~ Psalm 30:11
I recently told someone that my cousin, John's death had, "brought me so much healing."
It's an interesting thing about death, grief, and how we maneuver through feelings and moments. I miss my cousin. While we hadn't been close for a number of years, the final months of his life brought us closer together, and we gained a new understanding and strengthened relationship because of what we encountered together.
So often in the relationships I have with my patients and their families, I am drawn to the understanding that death of the person is going to bring about many things. Change is inevitable. The feelings of loss will be normal. A sense of healing and wholeness can also be present.
Because of John's death, I found myself on a road trip a few weeks ago. Just me and his ashes. His request for his ashes to be taken back to Indiana where we shared so many childhood memories was a dying wish of his, and a promise I made and would keep.
As I drove I couldn't help but think about so many people that I know who have kept the wishes of the dying near their hearts, and how that wish becomes a part of who they are as they continue to live on beyond the final breath of the person who has died.
What to do with our losses?
I always remind others that there is no "right or wrong way," to mourn our losses. We cannot overwhelm the losses with calendared events, or act as if they did not happen. One thing that I have learned is that we can shed tears over them and allow ourselves to grieve. Grief is the allowing of our losses to reach vulnerable places within ourselves that leads us to places of truth and our own brokenness. Our grief makes us experience places in our life where things are unsettled. It reminds us that in our life there exists places that are constantly changing.
In the midst of grief, however, the pain seems to provide for a strange and welcoming voice. It is the voice that reminds us, "Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted."
This has been the unexpected welcome in grief. Like the loss itself, it is the unexpected news. Within our grief there is hidden a blessing. It is the reminder that those who mourn will be blessed. Somewhere in the midst of our tears, there is a blessing that meets us.
I am reminded how the Psalmist describes how God has turned mourning into dancing. I don't understand how, but in the midst of our pain, the first steps of the dance take place. The music of our pain and the cries of our loss, become a melody that then encourages us to dance. The dance, symbolic of healing, seeing vulnerabilities and wounds for what they are. We mourn and we are blessed.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.