I’ve experienced loss and heartache. Most of us have. What I thought I learned about loss at the end of my marriage dims in comparison to what others experience. At the same time, what I have learned about community and family comes into sharper focus.
Friends are stumbling through every parent’s nightmare. Their beautiful 20-year-old daughter was killed when a car hit the bicycle she was riding. Her life is over before it really began.
I sat with them at the hospital and shared in their heartbreak. Tears flowed as we held hands, prayed, and just sat while their daughter’s body was kept breathing until her organs could be donated. I felt so inadequate in the face of their grief.
This grief is overwhelming. They can’t bear it alone. Friends come to them. Family members travel to be there. Peers of their daughter hold a slumber party in her hospital room, celebrating and honoring her. Their community comes.
When they share their grief with us we take a bit of it. We cry and grieve and take a little of their pain. We gather in waiting rooms and bear a little of their burden. And maybe the crushing in their chest lessens just a little so they can keep breathing. We love them and hold them up in the face of their loss, much like Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms while the armies of Israel battled. (Exodus 17)
What we do feels so small. And yet it is a big thing. It is what family and community does during hard times.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
We remind each other that God’s compassions will not fail. We tell each other that God is with us and bears our burdens. And together, leaning into each other, holding each other up we begin to believe it even in this.
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our savior who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)
There is no “One Size Fits All” for the troubles we face. We only know that we will face them.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” John 16:33
Sharing my friends’ pain along with a thousand other people in their community, it is clear we weren’t meant to face our hard places alone.
“Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
There really is no neat and tidy way to wrap up this post. My friends and our community continue to grieve. But we will hold onto each other as we hold onto our hope in God’s unfailing love.
“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” (Psalm 71:14)