Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).
The Bereaved Visitor
With dammed up tears and a slight lump in her throat, a lovely young woman pushes through college classes, clubs, road trips, and hanging out with friends. She scarcely notices the feelings.
Then she hears a chord from one of her father’s favorite songs, sees a smile disarmingly like his, or receives a surprise visit from him in the theater of her imagination.
Tears break free.
Her dad died just a few months ago. She wonders when the pain will end.
She visits me for counseling. She worries that this struggle against tears will interfere with her work and shatter her image of keeping it all together. Unless she sees that image in the mirror and feels confident that others see the same, she fears she will collapse.
She is legion, having visited often through the weeks and years, with differing names, faces, and journeys but a shared wound of bereavement. I offer silence, resonance, and companionship in the aching irreversibility of loss.
A Word on Tears
However, when she repeats her exasperation over the difficulty controlling tears, I offer a few extra words:
Grief is the evening of love. It returns, as evenings do.
But unlike the sun’s cycling, love is wild. Have you ever fallen in love? Note the word: fallen. Out-of-control. Exhilarating, sometimes like a roller-coaster.
Maybe you have not fallen in love romantically yet. Don’t rush it. But yes, you have fallen in love with your favorite pet, with this college, even with your father when you were too young to remember.
You don’t manage love. Love takes charge, and you manage yourself amid its vicissitudes as best you can. But love is like the wind and tide, and you ride it for all it’s worth. Other hands steer.
So here in the evening of love, tears come. Let them. You are loving your father when you cry. Don’t indulge it. Don’t do it to get attention from others because that’s not love any more. But don’t fight it either. Find your place and time to cry.
It will get better. But that does not mean your love for your father will end. It shapes and opens you to keep receiving the love God started sending through him and still sends. You just settle in to the reality.
But ten years from now, when you hear that chord, see that smile in a crowd, or get that surprise visit in your dreams or reveries, tears may come. Don’t ask whether you are okay. Loving is much better than being okay.