“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”
Our Deacon Team is currently reading together the book who’s title comes from this verse in Proverbs, “Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart”. It is a book about caring for the grieving, a task our Deacon Team knows all too well and an important one to train people to perform.
Grief comes to us all, and it comes in differing stages. It can come when a team loses a game we were desperately hoping to win, when a loved one is sick with the flu, when we lose a job unexpectedly, or at the death of someone close to us. Though the degrees differ, all of these are causes of grief and need careful attention. Ranking the degree of someone’s grief is never helpful – their grief is theirs to feel and not ours to judge.
When someone is grieving, it usually makes us uncomfortable. And uncomfortable people tend to do and say pretty dumb things. I’ve been told, “It’s fine. You’ll get over it,” and “they were 86; it was probably time for them to die anyway” and neither brought me hope, comfort, or peace. In fact, both simply mingled my grief with anger at the insensitivity of it. On the other hand, I’ve also been told, “I’m so sorry; is there anything I can do?” and “…”; nothing at all but a gentle presence, both of which helped the healing process of my grief.
We don’t like it when other people grieve. It scares us, it makes us uncomfortable, and we too often avoid it. But avoidance may be better than the usual alternative which is to try to stop them from grieving. “Cheer up” and it’s insensitive siblings have no place when someone is grieving. We must be sure that we do not sing songs to a heavy heart, but instead be a calming presence, ready to listen, to sit in silence, and to incarnate Christ for those in need of His healing and comforting presence.