For every person who has lost a loved one.
For all those who have been afflicted by devastation, illness, disability, failure.
For all those who are needy, desperate, obfuscated, marginalized.
Weep with me.
Do not hide from your pain. To arise beside your pain–not fleeing from it–but facing it, is an act of great bravery.
I don’t say this to make you feel better, I say this because it is the truth. And to honor you.
To be clear: in declaring your brokenness, you will be judged, mocked, ridiculed, or excoriated by some, ignored by others. Some will attempt to change you, to guilt you, to transform your circumstance into some sort of cosmic good. Many will claim to know the path to healing, and attempt to thrust it upon you.
All of these efforts will be useless, and mostly harmful.
Yet some will stand with you, caress you, offer you not advice, but a listening ear.
Not words, but silence.
Not solutions, but grace.
Not judgment, but forgiveness.
They will embrace you, understanding that the pain you feel is not at all your fault, and that nothing will ever be the same.
Longing for what was, while attempting to create a new life around what is, will be anything but easy. There is no perfect roadmap in the realm of horror. Some will say there is, but there isn’t.
All I ask is that you do not hide. Peace is not forever lost, nor is meaning.
They may be conspicuously absent from your life right now, and that is perfectly okay.
Weep with me. Share your aching heart, and I will listen. You are not alone.
I will fix nothing. I will solve not a single problem. Instead, I will stand with you in solidarity. I will rush to your side, and weep with you.
I can offer only navigational tools to aid you in your journey; tools that have served me well, but they do not exist to make life’s challenges go away. They exist to help me live my life as an offering despite the fact that I am forever changed. The hole will never fully dissipate, only be filled with something new. That could be beautiful, or it could be destructive.
As for your pains, what transpires is not my choice. My choice is to love.
The reality is that grief is terribly uncomfortable, and it shouldn’t be comfortable.
I cannot wash away your grief, but I can weep with you, our tears flowing with such profundity that perhaps even the angels take notice.
I can encourage compassion, directed towards those around you, but most importantly, towards yourself.
I can assure you that although there will be some very wrenching times ahead, I am with you.
That isolation isn’t a path that leads to peace.
Whatever wounds you face probably feel as if they are protruding from the very fiber of your being. They are. They wail, they ache, they agonize for relief.
You do not find peace via avoidance. You do not find peace via the changing of your perception. And you do not find peace by waiting for someone–or something–to rescue you.
You find it within, and amongst those who love you.
It is an almost indescribable paradox: in your suffering, you are alone, and not alone.
I do not offer any immediate remedy, nor do I offer a course to make a wound transformational. I can’t do that for you.
What I can do is acknowledge. I can honor you. Hear you. Love you, indeed.
Weep with me. I’ve lost too many people. I was born with afflictions that caused me tremendous shame. My heart’s been torn asunder.
I can only imagine what you’ve endured.
Grief is devastating. Loss is horrific. Evil exists. Some things happen for a reason, and other things happen for absolutely no reason at all.
No amount of personal growth can ever account for what happens when the world is taken from under you.
But loss is not a problem to be solved, adversity is not something to be beaten, and resilience is not something to be fast-tracked.
I want you to take my hand and weep with me.
This is not an attempt at a solution.
This is the active manifestation of resilience, peacemaking and authentic love.
These are all desperately needed.
Let us cultivate them, not by avoiding our tears, but by shedding them, together.
Tim Lawrence is an adversity strategist, researcher, copyeditor and author of The Adversity Within, a blog exploring loss, adversity and resilience. Tim’s work is deeply rooted in an intensive study of post-traumatic growth; his research interests include neuroscience, philosophy and monasticism. Tim also lives with cerebral palsy and epilepsy and is a tireless advocate for the suffering and isolated. You can find more info on Tim’s website, or follow him on FB or Twitter.
Featured image courtesy of Nigel Lo.