There’s a topic we don’t really like to talk about and is something that many of us don’t do very well with: grief. It’s a relevant topic because each day in the news we see new numbers of those who’ve died from this virus, and yesterday was Memorial Day, the day each year we take to honor the men and women who died for our country. But beyond that, each and every day around the world people die from a variety of causes including natural disasters, cancer, suicide and murder. Death is as much a part of life as birth and living are.
But death isn’t something that we’re so good at dealing with these days. In past times I think people have had a better handle on it and respected it more than we do today. For example in Ancient Egypt mummification was a very regular practice, they worshiped a god of death, and made huge pyramids that are still visible today as part of their death rituals. The Bible also talks consistently about death, about the grieving and mourning that people would do after a loved one died, and about how much they treasured each life, each family member, even if that person wasn’t the most well behaved.
One of those challenging relationships was Saul and David, they started out with a good relationship but over the years it got strained for a variety of reasons. But David, being the man that he was, was always respectful of Saul because God did put him in charge of Israel, and when David heard that Saul died as part of war: “David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day.” (2 Samuel 1:11-12). David also wrote a song for Saul and Jonathan (someone David loved like a brother), and asked for all the Israelites to learn it, as another sign of respect and a way of keeping the story and lives of Saul and Jonathan alive for centuries to come.
I initially found this passage because it was one of the few that the version of the Bible I was looking at pointed to on the topic of grief. It also included a little side note about how David and his men weren’t ashamed to grieve or that they felt it necessary to hide their grief. If someone as well-known, close to God and vocal as David finds it important to grieve, is willing to do so in full view of others, and encourages others to grieve as well, I think it’s an important statement about how we should take time for grieving as well. No, grief isn’t always a public or community thing, most of it is very personal and something that we do on our own, in our own way, and on our own timeline.
Grief isn’t just about people though, we can grieve the loss of a way of life or a loss of innocence. Many of us will need to take time to process and grieve all that’s been lost over the past few months with this virus (even if we’ve gained through it as well). The important thing to remember is that there’s no shame in grieving and that it’s healthy to grieve. God is the God of the broken-hearted and will be with you through all stages of the grief process, as well as there to help you with the living you do after.