This week I was challenged by my mentor to mourn some of the loses I have recently experienced in my life. So, like most things I don’t understand, I set out to think about and learn how to mourn. Learning to mourn might sound sterile and remove, but I think it is necessary because of my theology.
By inference, I take Genesis 1:31, which states on the 6th day of creation God was pleased with all of his work calling it “very good,” to mean Adam and Eve were pleasing to God and were very good themselves.
They were perfect.
Sin had not corrupted humanity or creation yet. There was no lose, suffering or sadness. Likewise, at the other end all time Scripture states God will:
“… wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”
We were never meant to feel pain, suffer lose or experience sadness. These are side effects of sin in our world. They are bookended between two perfect worlds. They were not part of God’s original creation and they will not be part of God’s renewed and reconstructed Heaven and Earth. So, it is no wonder we have a hard time mourning, it does not and should not come naturally. Learning to mourn then is just another process we have to grasp in order to fully experience it, just like forgiveness, conflict resolution and healing.
So then, what is mourning?
One dictionary says mourning is, “Expressing grief.” Now to be honest this is only somewhat helpful. I would define mouring as, “Allowing one’s self to feel and express the pain and sadness (sorrow) of loss.” I find it interesting that with this kind of definition we can mourn a lot of different things, not just loss of life. We can mourn:
- a friendship or relationship
- a job
- a possession (car, house, heirloom)
- a dream
We can mourn anything that has or had meaning for us. It might seem trite, but I think we can mourn the ending of TV series, a movie or even a ballgame. If these things have value and significance for us, we can suffer lose when they are over. Of course a TV series does not does not cause as much loss as the death of a parent or even a breakup, but I still think the idea is solid.
With this in mind, how do we mourn?
I think the first step is a foray into realty and it is probably the hardest. We have to admit what we valued or loved is gone, lost or dead. If we never admit the loss we can never embrace the sadness or pain that comes with the loss. When we pretend a loss does not exist or is not real we deny what is true to life.
From here we have to process or move into the emptiness our admission as created. For some this can happen by talking about the loss, for others it could be journaling, painting or crying. Anything cathartic will work, as long it is an honest expression of our emotions. Don’t be surprised if in this process we will experience a wide range of emotions besides sorrow or sadness. Anger, betray, defeat are all possibilities. For me a punching bag is very therapeutic. It helps me let go the pain, denial and emotions that get stuck inside.
Once we have admitted our loss, and explored the emptiness, I think we can feel confident in finding a way forward in life. This does not mean we leave the loss behind, because it becomes part of us. But we at least embraced our loss and expressed our emotions in a healthy way. This is being true to ourselves and accurate with reality.
Now to move from lecture to lab.