There is a bible verse that says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) I never actually understood this verse. I am by nature an extrovert and more than slightly co-dependent. So, in my world, why would you weep with someone? Wouldn’t you want to brighten up their day, perk them up a bit? I want everyone to be happy. People should feel better when I am there. In the past I always felt I needed to do something.
After today, I think I am getting a better grasp on the verse. Our neighbor Jack Guerin died of cancer complications at the age of nine. We have lived on the same street for about five years and he has been sick for two and a half of those years. We have been praying hard for him but this week, he just couldn’t hang on any longer. He passed away quietly at his home. His wake was this afternoon.
Any time you have to go to a funeral home is hard; when you have to look at a once vibrant, little boy in the casket - it is devastating. This is not the time to try to lighten things up. Jokes seem wrong on so many levels next to a child’s casket.
As I knelt down to say a prayer in front of the casket all I could think was, “Breathe, breathe you can do it. We will all be scared witless, but we get over it in five minutes when we realize you are okay, just wake up, wake up, wake up!” Of course he couldn’t wake up; I think the embalming process puts an end to any hope of that. So, what do you do? You mourn with the parents. I just had an overwhelming feeling of sadness, sadness that empathized with Mike and Mandy, sadness at this cruel ending to a beautiful life. There was nothing, absolutely nothing to say which could possibly help. So, I hugged and I cried and I hugged and cried some more. I was also desperately aware of the injustice that I got to leave with two healthy children.
I also realized later that I didn’t feel awkward or uneasy. I wasn’t searching for something to do there. I wasn’t trying to dissipate any tension or sadness. This verse from Romans was rattling around my head until I put two and two together. This is what mourning with those who mourn is all about. It’s not about lightening their load or making them feel better or heaven forbid cheering them up. It is about just being there in the grief. It is admitting you can’t change the hurt and you can’t change the circumstance, but you share in it. You say to someone, “I will be here right here in the middle of all this sadness and I will sit with you as long as it takes.” Maybe just maybe it isn’t about doing anything, but just about being with someone. I hope so, because my presence is all I have to give.