Recently, I sat with a group of people in a circle chatting about life in general. After I talked with an old gentleman for a few minutes he said, “I buried my son before Christmas”. He immediately went on to talk about a trip he had just taken. It took me a while to come back to those six words with a response, “Your Christmas would be very different this year.” He began to talk about his son, and soon wiped tears from his eyes. In the midst of other’s laughter and the scraping of chairs as people came and went from the circle, the man seemed to welcome the silence that periodically filled the space between us.
There was no need to rescue him, save him from his pain of remembering, interpret his sorrow or speak for God. The man took his time, told his story and actually seemed quite unaware of my responses. When he sighed deeply, I knew he was finished. But in some ways, he’d just begun his grief journey. I felt honoured that he’d taken a first step with me.
At any given time, someone might choose you to take another step toward grief recovery. Or, someone might be waiting for you to fall in step because he or she has something to tell you. In chaplaincy, I was taught, “To be a good listener, meet the person where they are, follow them where they go . . . and they’ll come full circle, sometimes solving their own problem.” I am thankful for that eternal truth.