It’s NOT a Competition

Wouldn’t it be fun if we could view funeral services on television in the same way we watch a basketball game, with a play-by-play announcer and a color commentator to interpret the scene for us?  “Aunt Janet just set a personal best for the most intense sob during a memorial service!”  “The hug between the widow and the deacon was one of the top-five longest funeral hugs in the state this year.”  “Bill narrowly missed out on the funeral Olympic team four years ago, but he’s a leading candidate to lock up one of the six spots on this year’s team as he hopes to represent the USA as a mourner in Brazil this summer.”

Yes, I know.  At times, my sense of humor is way too active and way too warped.  You’re welcome.  More than once, I’ve wished I could enact such a mock scenario with certain people.  It might have helped them see themselves the way most of the rest of the world was seeing them.

Grief is not a competition, but you wouldn’t know that by the way some folks treat it.  That mindset prevails at both ends of the grief spectrum.  Some people display the mindset that grief must be as intense and public as possible while lasting as long as possible.  They make a direct correlation between the degree of grief shown and the depth of love felt for the deceased.  To these people, a person who doesn’t grieve openly or deeply is either in denial or just didn’t love the person as much.  In some cases that may in fact be true, but it’s a huge error to assume that it applies to all situations.

The opposite end of the spectrum is where you’ll find those racing to get past their grief too fast.  For them, to be too sad for too long is indicative of a disconnect with God.  God is the God of peace and hope and joy, He wants us to have an abundant life.  If we’re still mourning then there’s a problem in our faith walk.  I have absolutely encountered some folks who needed a serious spiritual adjustment in the midst of their grieving, but it’s again a mistake to turn particulars into universals.

We’re all different.  We’re wired differently, we’re affected differently, we respond differently.  Some people sprint through a period of grief, others limp along at a snail’s pace.  I’ve seen mourners who deleted social media accounts and gave away possessions less than a week after the passing of a loved one.  I’ve seen others who have preserved rooms of their homes as museums commemorating the ones who once occupied those rooms years ago.  On both extremes, I can confidently assess that some of those folks have grieved well while others have grieved badly.  Here’s the irony of that last sentence: I doesn’t matter what I think, because I’m not them!

Neither are you!  And you’re not me, I’m not you, etc.  When it comes to grief, you have to be you.  You have to know what you’re able to accept, and when.  You have to know when it’s time to slow down and let things sink in, or when it’s time to push yourself out of your comfort zone to move forward.  That’s not based on what anyone else has done, how they did it, or when they did it.  In this case, it is all about you.  It’s an unnecessary (and often heavy) burden to carry when you pressure yourself to grieve in the same way as someone else.  You already have enough burdens to carry, why do you want to add one that you don’t need?

You be you, you do you.  Grieve well in your own way and time.  Enjoy those daffodils along the way!



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