Before my grandfather’s funeral, I struggled for time to absorb his absence and grieve. We had logistics to handle, relatives to entertain, strangers to greet, and my grandmother to keep company. One night, my older cousin found me sitting alone in a dark room and demanded to know who had “said something ugly” to make me cry. She didn’t understand my need for a minute to acknowledge the pain in my chest.
After the funeral, I saw four family friends who drove three hours from our hometown to be there. The emotional dam I’d kept plugged finally burst. I started crying. What better time to mourn, when no one required anything of me, and friends were there for support?
One by one, they stepped forward to hug me. The fourth, however, clapped me hard on the shoulder. “Stop that, now,” he said. “Pull it together. You’re in public.”
His own discomfort had spoken. How dare I grieve in front of him? At a funeral! I felt like one of Job’s friends had replaced the one I had.
Since then, I’ve lost more relatives. At each funeral I’ve fought against the echo of rebuke and reminded myself that God doesn’t equate tears with weakness. God created seasons for everything, including a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (vv. 3-4).
At my younger cousin’s funeral this winter, seeing so many of Santee’s friends grieve openly and support each other healed me. They embraced, wept, and talked. They linked arms with those who couldn’t cry and walked around the cemetery. They mourned honestly as a community, embracing the season in which they stood. I remain so grateful for their example.
Which season in today’s passage sounds like the one you’re in now? When have you struggled to find the right season to express what’s inside of you?
God of every season, grant me wisdom to see which season I’m in and to recognize which ones I’ve denied myself. Amen.