He came into the house and said he had a gift for us. He was going to pay off our home, our car, any bills we had, and give us enough money to have financial freedom for the rest of our lives. We wouldn’t be rich, but we would be stable, maybe even enough to go on a vacation once a year, or possibly the honeymoon we never had. The other guests in the house were in awe – I mean everyone wants a million dollars, financial freedom or, “a 100 pound bag of money” as Dave is known to say when he is asked, “What can you use?”
The guests all threw open the doors and welcomed him in, this bearer of great tidings. It’s not like we don’t have food on the table and the basic needs for life – we do. This was going to be a tremendous blessing to us and our friends wanted to share in the wonderful news….
He was wearing trendy clothes and carried himself in a way that shouted confidence. Charm. Charismatic in his speech, we were mesmerized by his words. Just being in his presence produced a captivating energy and you caught it like you would a fly ball. The guests hung on every word and tried to re-position themselves to get closest to him – straining to hear his smooth talk and promises of the good life free of worry and pain.
Someone in the room finally asked him his name and he replied, “Grief.” Immediately people began to shift uncomfortably. As he continued to speak, the clothing he was wearing changed before our eyes into rags, his countenance became one of uncertainty, and his speech became slower, rhythmic, with a mournful tone. The person next to me began to edge further away and I caught the others attempting to non-nonchalantly place some distance between Grief and themselves. I witnessed Grief’s eyes get dark and cloudy. “Oh no, he isn’t going to cry is he?” I could sense the thoughts of those around me as the silence grew and the space between the guests and Grief grew larger.
And then we were alone. Grief and I. I stood staring him in the face wondering why I alone was left to face him. “Not me. Please not me.” Shoulders sagging he turned around to walk away and then I noticed it – the burden on his back dragging him almost to the ground with the weight of it. “Wait” I cried, “please let me help you.” Little by little I began to share his burden all the while thinking about those who had quickly left. If only they had stayed to carry just a little bit of weight, it wouldn’t be so heavy for him. But everyone has their own burdens and Grief seems to difficult to befriend. His clothes are messy, he is dirty, disorganized, and is filled with pain. He depletes the energy of those around him. His words are not smooth and often just plain ugly. His background is strange and his perspective distorted. Grief lives in the dry barren places where no one wants to visit, let alone dwell.
As I continued to remove some of his burden by listening to his heavy words, I noticed Grief was able to hold his shoulders a bit higher now and his eyes seemed less cloudy. Somehow the weight I was taking upon myself didn’t feel as heavy as I expected my portion to be. He gazed at me. “I’m sorry you have to go through this,” I stated. He took my hand in His and that’s when I saw it. A gaping jagged hole in his wrist, and scars on his forehead as if they had come from thorns. I looked down and saw his feet where the blood was dripping – and I knew.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matt. 25:40
Tears formed in His eyes and I heard in my heart the words, “Thank you.”
I looked at my clothes and instead of being messy as I was expecting they were new, freshly pressed, and so very clean. He looked at me one last time as he disappeared the way he had come but he looked a bit more confident again, and I knew he felt better. He still had a long way to travel and the road would be hard, but he wasn’t alone in his journey. Most surprising of all – my heart was a bit lighter too.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal. 6:2
Note: Grief is messy but those experiencing loss, depression, or a simply a tough time in life, need to know it’s OK to grieve, and you will be with them. You help by simply being there. Cliches and empty promises, trying to make things better, often only make the situation much worse. A hug, a touch, a simple, “I am sorry you have to go through this.” are all you need to say – or say nothing at all. Follow up with them, don’t assume they are over it. Or if they pull away make sure they are OK.
Feel free to email me for grief resources if you need them. By simply bearing some weight, you will help them to find the hills again. “Love doesn’t try to make others better but to love them into a better place.” JG.