Grief's Grace

When something bad happens, we are connected like never before.

Posted in , Jun 29, 2015

We can find grace in our grief.

I went to a memorial service for a five-year old today. I sat with a non-believing friend and a Jewish friend, and listened as a Hispanic man sang an awesome rendition of “Precious Lord.” It was a thoroughly New York service; people of vastly diverse backgrounds loaned each other tissues and cried in their collective grief.

It struck me as I looked around that tragedies do something that very little else does: They make the interconnectedness of our lives visible. They help us realize that one person’s loss gives others the opportunity to reach out, and that suffering and joy are two sides of the same coin of life, and that strength has a lot more to do with how we support each other than with rugged individualism. They help us know that just being there counts.

After the service people lingered a while longer in the social hall than usual, wanting to talk just a little bit longer before heading off to the next event in their busy lives. Perhaps they instinctively knew that their personal grief was also a collective sorrow, and that we aren’t meant to face these things alone.


The thought of loss hung heavy in the air. “What hits me hardest,” a Christian friend commented, “Is that his mom can never hug him again.” Her own three-year old whizzed past, chasing imaginary bad guys. I hugged her, connecting the pang in my own heart to hers, knowing that none of us get out of this alive, and that the only real way is to get through it together, with faith in God. 

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