Grieving Together and Apart
Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.” The Hittites replied to Abraham, “None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.” Again Abraham said, “I will pay the price of the field.” – Genesis 23:3-13 (NIV, excerpted)
Our nation and our churches are awash in grief. Grief for lost loved ones. Grief for lost traditions. Grief for lost futures. Grief for lost time. Grief that goes on and on.
Grief can seem a backwards thing. It makes Abraham insist on paying handsomely for what would have been freely given. When the Hittites offer to share in some of Abraham’s grief, his response is, “No, this is mine.”
Abraham was right to insist on grieving his own way. And the Hittites were right to allow him to do so. They offered what help they could imagine, then they had the grace to take “no” for an answer.
If you are in the grips of grief today, remember the example of Abraham. You can grieve your own way, even if it doesn’t make sense to others, even if it is costly.
And as you encounter other people, know that they are all in grief. Our whole nation is swimming in grief. And remember the example of the Hittites: offer what help you can imagine, then have the grace to take “no” for an answer.
God of grace, comfort those in grief.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.