Grief is not always about someone dying. We experience grief as a result of loss. There are many kinds of loss. When we lose someone we love due to physical death, we grieve. We also grieve when we lose our good health, when we lose a job, when we lose money, when our best friend relocates. There can be a level of grief when we move out of our home we’ve lived in for thirty to forty years. Retirement can bring grief.
Parents grieve as their children grow up. Even within the celebration of driver’s licenses, prom dates and graduation, we sometimes grieve over their increasing independence. For them, it’s an adventure. For parents, it often brings a sense of loss. Our daughter is thirty-five years old, yet my wife Kathy still becomes a little melancholy when school starts in the fall with the turning leaves and the sounds of school buses. Why? Because from the first time we pinned that bus tag on her little sweater and walked her out to her first school bus ride, Kathy began marking time with each September in our daughter’s life. She was losing her little girl and could do nothing to stop it.
So, we all grieve loss.
In the fall of 1985 I was the head football coach of a small high school whose football program had struggled over the years. We had lost every game that season going into our final game. We worked so hard in preparation to beat our county rival. The kids played their hearts out. We lost 7-6.
I spoke to the team, the players showered and the coaches went home. The sports editor for the local paper waited until everyone was gone to interview me. He was a personal friend. We even attended the same church. As I sat on a that wooden bench in the empty locker room, the musty aroma of sweat along with the humidity of hot showers and soap lingered in the air. I sat in total silence feeling such a deep sense of loss. I was grieving; grieving for my players; grieving the enormous weight of my failure when my sports writer friend stepped through the locker room door.
I sat there motionless, barley looking up. Then he did something I will never forget. He just sat there next to me. He put his arm around my shoulders and continued to sit there not saying a word. We just sat on that hard bench staring at the tile floor littered with pieces of athletic tape. Then, after what seemed to be a long silence, he patted me on the knee; stood up and left without saying a word.
My friend grieved with me.
When someone we love is grieving a loss, sometimes the best thing we can do is just be there. No small talk; no pithy comments; no need to verbally express how sorry we are. Just sit there with them. Just grieve with them. Don’t be intimidated by the silence. If they want to talk, they will talk. A look, a hug, an arm around the shoulder may be the only language necessary. We tend to be uncomfortable with silence. In fact, we often avoid silence. But, silence can be powerful. there is comfort and healing in the silence.
What my friend taught me about grief and loss is that we need to grieve with people…and when necessary, use words.
Morrissett Community Care-
Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
Serving the Richmond area since 1870