Learning to Mourn

Posted on September 1, 2023

Several people have asked me to write about how grievers feel and how to help.

The dictionary describes mourning as feeling or sharing deep sadness following the death of someone. According to bereavement counselors, mourning is grieving out loud. Sharing your sorrow with others. It’s lament in the deepest sense.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, we aren’t encouraged to lament or mourn. After a loved one’s death, we are expected to grieve for a time but not a long time. Not a lifetime, which is what happens in real life.

We admit to loving for a lifetime so how could we possibly expect that love to disappear? Yes, we move forward, at least we hope to, but never totally beyond the grief. Our hearts are scarred for eternity.

One of the hard things about mourning, outside of missing our loved ones every day, is the lack of acknowledgment of our grief. Societal etiquette says, “Don’t ask about the deceased. It might bring tears.” Society is wrong! God created us with emotions and those feelings must be expressed. Help a griever by sharing their sadness and mentioning the name of their loved one. They need to know that he/she is not forgotten.

At the same time, offer help— something tangible—pick up groceries, mow a lawn, do laundry, bring lunch to share rather than dropping it off. Instead of offering, “If you need anything call,” realize they are already overwhelmed with needs. Find a way to help.

What grievers especially need is a kind word and a hug. Someone to sit with them and hear their story. Someone who will laugh and cry with them. Someone who’s not afraid to go the length—to totally empathize with them. Empathy is hard. It takes you into the very pit of grief with someone. A place where you can almost taste the salt of their tears.

In this life, we will all be grievers at some time. Some of us have already experienced this pain. We know how to mourn. We just don’t know how to handle the loneliness when friends or family fail to respect the remembrance of our loved ones enough to mourn with us. Let’s change that!


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