It was six months ago that my friend and colleague texted me, we were to have a Chaplaincy meeting in a few minutes. The text wasn’t about the meeting.
He told me he was in the ER. His daughter had just died.
And so began a deep song of lament, which we have witnessed, shared in at times, weeping with those who weep. There is sweetness in the song, as a beautiful life is remembered and cherished and even celebrated. And then there is the wail of sorrow. She is so terribly missed.
The pain of a parent whose child dies is unimaginable and only those who have experienced this grief can testify to the pain.
Lament is a good word.
It is a word that has resonated deeply with me in some of the darkest periods of my life. I learned to write lament when I was studying at theology school but I think it was already written in my heart.
I’ve always felt comfort in the laments of the Psalms, and am grateful the book of Lamentations found its way in Holy scripture.
Last week my friend loaned me this book, “Lament for a Son “ by Nicholas Wolterstorff. I would highly recommend it. It is raw, honest and gives a glimpse into the heart of a dad who misses his son.
Wolterstorff refers to another book that helped me greatly when I was newly widowed, “A Grief Observed” by CS Lewis. This book helped me accept my own range of emotions when I was fraught with grief and even anger. Yes, I needed someone to tell me that was ok. This is lament.
On Sunday, I drew this piece about lament, knowing I was going to write about it for my Tuesday blog. This morning, we had an early call… our brother in law had died. Much loved, and cherished. It was not unexpected and yet we are shaken.
So I write this for those who mourn. We sing a song of lament with those who grieve.
Even my sunflowers which have been beautiful this year all hung their heavy heads today and it seemed so appropriate.
There is a time to weep, the writer of Ecclesiastes (3:4). tells us. This verse says there is also a time to laugh. Even today we laughed at memories, Joy mingled into tears.
This is the great song of life, both beautiful and sad, and full of great love.