So many days after the massacre in South Carolina… and in the aftermath of the (renewed) controversy over the Confederate Battle Flag, I finally understand what’s been going on with me: I’m grieving.
I haven’t known what to say. I haven’t known what to do. I’ve not even known exactly how to pray. I’ve just been hurting. I’ve even cried a bit.
I was saddened by the shooting but I was devastated by the responses of some Americans and even more so by those who call themselves by the name of Christ. You see, there is a proper Christian response to tragedy and loss. Telling people that their concerns are “petty” and to “suck it up” are not on the list. And, yes, those are both things I’ve been told recently. The proper Christian response is…
Well. In a minute.
First, let’s look at what grief is according to trusty old WebMD. Grief is a sense or feeling of loss and has a number of expressions:
Grief is expressed physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
Physical expressions of grief often include crying and sighing, headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, weakness, fatigue, feelings of heaviness, aches, pains, and other stress-related ailments.
Emotional expressions of grief include feelings of sadness and yearning. But feelings of worry, anxiety, frustration, anger, or guilt are also normal.
Social expressions of grief may include feeling detached from others, isolating yourself from social contact, and behaving in ways that are not normal for you.
Spiritual expressions of grief may include questioning the reason for your loss, the purpose of pain and suffering, the purpose of life, and the meaning of death. After a death, your grieving process is influenced by how you view death.
I can tell you, dear reader, that I’ve gone through several of those feelings in the wake of the massacre. (By the way, I refuse to call it terrorism because a) that term dilutes the impact of what happened and b) the killer himself said it was an act of racism – not terrorism. “Momma called Clay… imma call him Clay.”)
So what is the proper response when a brother or sister is hurting? What do you do even when you can acknowledge that the incident either didn’t impact you directly or you can’t comprehend what others are feeling?
Paul says… “weep with those who weep.”
On the other hand, here is what you do NOT do… “Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.” Proverbs 25:20
In other words, you do NOT change the subject, tell them to get over it or make jokes.
When someone is grieving, it isn’t the time for politics. Those can wait. It isn’t the time to scapegoat, deflect or place blame. Just cry with them. Just be there. Frankly, the time of mourning isn’t either the time to do anything. You mourn. You process your thoughts and feelings. You work through it until you are able to move on. If you aren’t the aggrieved party, you allow the aggrieved some space to be something other than themselves for a little while. You mourn with them.
Grief is okay. It is necessary, in fact. “All losses must be grieved” to quote my mentor and friend, Thaddeus Eastland.
The only thing that isn’t okay is acting like it didn’t hurt. Or acting like it shouldn’t hurt someone else even if you aren’t feeling the pain. I won’t be crying forever. But, for right now, please weep with me.
Mark Anthony McCray helps people live on PURPOSE, achieve higher PERFORMANCE and experience true PROSPERITY. Forward this to a friend if you found it helpful. All material © Copyright, Mark Anthony McCray unless otherwise noted!
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