This morning, I was listening to a podcast from Restore the Glory with Dr. Bob Schuchts and Jake Khym, where they speak with Sr. Miriam James Heidland about her process of healing from deep wounds. Sister spoke about the need to express grief, calling this lamentation “an untapped resource in our faith’:
Of just the power of honest, authentic, “This was really hard and it was really unfair, and it hurts” . . . and just to wail…..There’s something so transformative and so powerful about lamentation, about just sitting at the foot of the cross and lamenting and letting it out over and over again, surrendering it to God, and asking him to speak the truth about it.”
I think one of the greatest mysteries of the Beatitudes for me has been when Jesus says, “Blessed are they who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). The world does not usually view mourning as a blessing. Even though some recognize the importance of engaging the grieving process for someone who has undergone a loss (like the Kubler-Ross / Kessler model of the stages of grief), most of the time, we don’t know what to do with other people or with ourselves when we are in the middle of that loss.
Too often, we jump to the “making lemonade out of lemons” response. If someone is hurt, it must be our job to cheer them up. We are afraid of grief, of mourning, of lamentation. On both sides — the mourner and the one near the one who grieves: we worry it might be messy, that we’ll say the wrong thing, that we’ll never forgive someone, that everyone will get tired of our pain and we will be alone. That we will be branded a complainer. That we cannot carry someone’s pain, or that it will trigger some hurt from our own heart. That we cannot trust or cannot be trusted.
Yet, Jesus says those who mourn are blessed, and Jesus always speaks the truth.
Pope Francis, in his apostolic letter Gaudete et Exsultate, touches on one important part of this beatitude, the value of compassion and accompaniment with those who suffer, of allowing people to experience their sorrow:
[A] person who sees things as they truly are and sympathizes with pain and sorrow is capable of touching life’s depths and finding authentic happiness. He or she is consoled, not by the world but by Jesus. Such persons are unafraid to share in the suffering of others; they do not flee from painful situations.
I think it’s also important to realize the blessing that Jesus is pouring upon us while we ourselves are mourning, by virtue of us allowing ourselves to mourn, to “wail,” as Sr. Miriam described.
I read into Sister’s comment that allowing emotional space and time for recognizing our loss, for wailing, allows God to speak the truth into it. If we try to skip to the “it’s no big deal and I’m fine” possible conclusion, we will miss something crucial to our growth.
Both parts of the Beatitude are important:
Blessed are those who mourn
For they will be comforted.