The darkest hour

Two friends of mine suffered a crushing loss last night.

I don’t know what to say to them. Experience says that in times like this, most of what most of us will say will be the wrong thing. We will say it with the best of intentions, but each word will be another rough scrape across a raw wound.

We don’t do lament well. I’m not sure if that lack is a human thing, or an American thing, or what. We don’t know how to mourn and grieve alongside others. We want to fix it and make it better. Which ends up making things worse.

I am very good at laughter. When my mom was dying of cancer, I could almost always make her laugh, genuinely laugh, even when she was terrified and sick. That’s my gift. I make light of things. Sometimes, when the weight of them is too heavy to bear, that’s an incredible blessing. In making light, it’s possible sometimes to make light–to bring joy and hope and laughter into a dark space, illuminating it, if only for a moment.

Not always, though. Sometimes, we have to let people feel and bear the weight of their own grief, and simply walk along side them, bearing whatever portion they can manage to pass over to us. We have to simply lament with them that life isn’t what it should be. That things are broken which cannot be fixed. We let them rage, and weep, and struggle, until they’re ready to begin walking forward again in a world that is altered.

We absorb the darkness along with them, hoping that in doing so, eventually light will break through.

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it. – John 1:5 NLT

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