“I feel like I’m mourning my whole life” said a fellow griever at a retreat I led this month. And I knew exactly what she meant.
There’s a way in which every grief connects to every other, tying itself with an invisible string that webs it’s way across our past and tugs our hearts out into imagined futures. Grief is tricky that way, never staying neatly contained in the present moment, but coloring everything that came before and everything that is yet to come.
I used to hate this, and some days I still do. But other days, especially when I sit in the company of mourners, I am grateful for the way grief strings us together. It is a beautiful thing to connect to others, even if it is across shared pain. Like the love from which it stems, grief has the power to bring us into community: to share our burdens, to be deeply understood, and offer each other help and comfort.
What if our grief is not just an exhausting experience to be suffered, but also an opportunity to be strung together into a human net which might catch us as we are falling in and out of life and love?
Grief has made me who I am today, and that is a person I love and am proud of. It has brought me to new relationships and callings, and has provided some of my most profound experiences of God’s presence both individually and in community. It has joined me to the whole host of saints who have loved and lost. I cannot grieve all that.
While it is true that every grief is unique and every griever’s experience isolated, it is equally true that grief is as universal an experience as love, and that we are only truly human when we have known loss. We are bound to each other in the inevitability of death, which makes precious the days we have. Grief’s ties are blessed too.