When someone dies, there are rituals. The body goes to a mortuary. For some, we look at an open casket, we see death with our own eyes. The person we once saw walking and talking and full of life is now lifeless. There are tangible, physical evidences of the hard reality. There are funerals, memorial services. Words spoken, songs sung about the person we have lost. We take time off of work to be with those we love. People gather to mourn, cry together, share memories together. These sacred moments are difficult to face, it is never easy going to a funeral. But they are cathartic. They are healing. They give the time and space to say goodbye, to mourn the loss.
There are losses we experience in life that are just as significant, hold just as much for us emotionally. Yet, these are more difficult to name, to express or even to know how to grieve. This weekend I experienced such a loss. My marriage of almost 12 years officially ended. We have not been together for 18 months, so in many ways this new reality has been my reality for some time. But just as burying someone in the ground makes it official they are never coming back, signing a divorce decree solidifies a marriage is over.
I decided to have a funeral. I told a friend and she wanted to be there. I told another friend, who also wanted to be there. I invited a third friend. It was a sacred time. Words were spoken, songs were played, prayers were said. And I found some things to bury under the tree in my yard - the one God has given me as a tangible image. The one I have worked hard to save this fall, the one that needed to be freed in order for it to have life again. There were tears, it was cathartic, there was healing.
Grieving is so hard, but it is so very important. And having friends who are willing to sit with you as you cry, to pray with you and speak words over you, is ever so beautiful.
"and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." Isaiah 61: 3-4