Grief And Community

I've been thinking about friends who were excited to meet Gabriel, and didn't. Many in our family and community were excited to meet Gabriel, anticipated his birth and his presence in their lives. They told us they were devastated that he wouldn't be a part of their lives, they wouldn't see him grow up. A friend of mine recently told me that he keeps Gabriel's birth announcement at his desk, because he is mindful that out of sight is out of mind, and he wants to remember Gabriel. I realize a portion of our grief at Gabriel's death is shared with others, and we miss and grieve for him together.

But I'm not completely sure what that means.

I remember someone close to me, who assumed that as a result of recurrent miscarriages, she knew all about my grief, and could tell me what I felt. And I was (and am) incredibly resentful and offended. It was, quite honestly, the closest I have come to flying at someone and punching them repeatedly. There is a world of difference between a miscarriage at 7 days, and the birth of a baby at 26 weeks. It is not that I think she has nothing to mourn - rather that we mourn entirely different things. The grief I felt at a dog or a cat or a parent's death is not the same as I felt for Gabriel. All grief is not the same.

If grief is not the same, I find myself wondering, to what extent can other's participate in our grief, and to what extent do we grieve only on our own? And how do we share and recognize the grief of others? How do I recognize the sadness of friends, of family, of our church? I am thankful that others miss Gabriel, I am thankful that he was a child of a greater community of friends and believers, not merely an accomplishment of mine and Mr. Spit's. But how does this actually play out in real life. What does it mean to grieve as a community or a family? Is it an act we do seperately, while in the same space, or is it somethign that builds and ties and binds us to one another, and helps us each become more fully human?

How do I respect the grief of others, at their tragedies, and abide with them in their sorrow. To join in the place of grieving and give my physical presence to them, so that I may be with them as they grieve.

I believe the idea that each person's pain is the most painful thing they have ever faced. But there's a bit of a one size doesn't fit all idea in my head. At some point, I want to stand up and acknowledge that loosing a baby is a greater tragedy than loosing a job or a pet. I'm mourning the fact that inexplicable, horrific and rare tragedy struck me. It's harder to relate to the grief of others.