“Chaplain, we need you to come to the welcome desk. There’s someone crying.”
I arrived to find a woman in tears. As I looked in her face, her eyes stared at the space between us. She was unsteady on her feet, so I led her to a nearby bench. As we sat, I asked, “What is wrong?”
Grief stuns us. The woman sat beside me, seeming to not really know where she was or what was happening. I asked again, trying to measure if her silence was a language barrier or her grief. It was both. In broken English, she replied, “My son is dying.”
I suddenly realized that I had heard her story from another chaplain. The day before, her 16-year-old son was completely healthy. Today, the doctors told his mother there was no hope for recovery.
Grief stuns us.
Mary stood outside the tomb. That she is seeing two angels sitting inside doesn’t even register in her mind. She answers their question, just looking for answers, just hoping for understanding.
I’ve come to understand that the fog that envelopes us in the early moments of grief is a gift. We walk through the hours in a stupor, not really hearing conversations or thinking through our actions. “I’m just on autopilot,” is what we say. To fully feel the weight of grief in those first moments? I don’t think any of us could survive it.
Who was beside you in your first moments of grief? What were they doing as they moved around you? Who received your grace-filled presence in the early moments of their grief?
God, it is not a trite thing to say that you send us angels in the first hours of our grief. They sit beside us, they answer the phone, and they make sure we know we are not alone. You are with us through them, and we are forever thankful. Amen.