Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 20, 2013


Grief is a painful journey that no one can avoid

     Grief is one of the common threads of life. It links us all together. Since every person will die the painful loss of loved ones is inevitable. And loss causes pain and struggle.

      Loss, however, does not have to be endured alone. Support is available. Though our society has spawned a “culture of violence,” that is not the whole story. There are churches, counselors and agencies that are ready to help us walk the lonely road of sorrow. And each of us as individuals can offer love and encouragement to the hurting persons in our circles of friends.

This is one of the beautiful aspects of being a human being. Each of us has the capacity to share one another’s burdens, to offer a shoulder to cry on, to simply “be there” for someone whose pain seems unbearable.

Grief feels like the bottom has fallen out of your world. Someone you loved is missing. A chair is empty. Tools once used are now idle. You feel numb and helpless. Yet life goes on. And you must find a way to go on with your own life.

We must find the strength to deal with the reality of death. Little help comes from reading a poem that says, “I did not die; I am still here with you.” No, the person who died in our arms and was buried last week is actually dead and gone.

Years ago I visited an old man who belonged to my church. He was about 80 and lived alone. While we chatted he told me about his beloved wife who had died about 20 years previously. “Would you like to see her room?” he asked. I was puzzled but said yes so we walked down the hall.

Opening the door to a bedroom, he said, “Everything is still just like it was the day she died,” he said. I was stunned by what I saw: an unmade bed with a dress on the footboard, a hair brush and lipstick lying on a dresser with one drawer partially opened, and the entire scene covered with cobwebs. It was something you would expect to see only in a horror movie.

I prayed with the old man and departed sorrowfully for I knew I had met a man whose family and friends had failed him. Yes, he had failed himself. But that is why we are in this world – to help a brother or a sister find a better way to respond to grief. And the truth is, some need more help than others.

Take a look around you. You will likely find someone who is struggling with the emotions that grief produces: anger, guilt, bitterness, emptiness, fear and self-pity. You may be able to help that person not by urging them to “get over it and move on” but by simply walking beside them until the pain diminishes.

If nothing else you might remind your hurting friend that God hurts too, just like his children hurt, when someone dies. He is that kind of God, a God who cares and is ready to help us when we are mourning the loss of a loved one. And he wants his children to help one another as they walk the painful journey called grief.

The privilege of providing loving support and encouragement to a fellow human being may be the secret of a life well lived. And sooner or later each of us will need that support.  + + +