She walked over to me that Sunday morning after church. In a quiet voice, she said, “How do you do it? How do you get through each day?”
A year earlier, I had lost my older brother. Five years before that, my husband had lost his sister. I am acquainted with grief. She knew that I knew what she was asking. My friend had lost both of her parents just a few months apart and was having trouble coping with the loss and the pain. I recall feeling bad for her, because I couldn’t fathom losing my parents, let alone just a few months apart.
As we talked through our hurt and loss, we shared a common bond. Grief does not discriminate. It hits everyone who has lost a loved one. It’s not a club you want to join, but you can’t refuse membership once it’s offered. Membership is free, but you’ve already paid a great price. You’re in the club in that moment of loss. With that one phone call. Or with the knock on the door. He’s gone. She’s not going to make it through the night. The test results are in, and it doesn’t look good. There’s been an accident, and there are no survivors.
Little did I know at the time of our conversation, that only a few years later I would once again be circled by grief as I lost my parents eleven days apart. Eleven. Days. Apart.
I am acquainted with grief. I am acquainted with loss. I am acquainted with the replaying over and over in my mind of how the scene of death played out for my loved ones. What were his last words? When was the last time I saw her alive? Those thoughts filled every moment of every day for months on end.
What I realize now is that we really do need each other. In those times of loss and uncertainty and unfamiliarity as we face a future without those loved ones, we need others who have walked that path. We need someone to hold us up and to encourage us to grieve. To live through the hard parts of life without our loved one. We need someone to be there for us in those times when we can’t hold ourselves together. When the memories and the loss are flooding down on us, and we feel like we can’t breathe. When we don’t know if life will ever feel normal again. We need to tell our story of loss over and over again. We especially need someone to listen to our story. To hear our hurt and our pain. To let us know that there is hope. To let us know that as life goes on, we should cherish the memories we have and hold onto them.
As Reuben Welch said, “We really do need each other.”
Love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12