Yesterday I had another funeral. In ten days I have been at Collierville Funeral Home three times. The first time it was to preach at a generic Christmas service for those who had lost loved ones in the past year. On Friday and Tuesday it was for fathers, one in his 50's and the other in his 80's. Although I had met both men they did not attend my parish church.
What is the message for people left behind? I believe strongly in mourning and weeping. Too often people seem to equate tears with weakness. I have to think that the reactions which come naturally at a time of great loss serve some healthy function. I do not understand why burying someone you love should be considered "no big deal." It seems to me frequently other people want the mourner to "hold it together" because that way it does not impinge on them.
There is no surprise that people who have suffered a great loss need to mourn. I share this more as a reminder. Many people around you are experiencing their first Christmas without someone whom they love. Compassion is a valuable response to such a situation. If you know someone who has had a loss the last few years it is generally more helpful to ask them how they are doing. Some of us are freaked out by a tear that is shed, but try to accept that the emotion you see is something buried inside of them. Losses make us feel lonely. That loneliness does not need to be compounded by the indifference, or even worse, the harsh criticism of others around us. It may not be so much fun for those who have suffered losses. Love them and be kind.