Songs of Nature

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Day 9

Written By Eyleen Farmer

Image courtesy of Rebecca Webb Wilson, Hawkeye Nature Photography


I looked for sympathy but there was none, for comforters, but I could find no one. 
—Psalm 69:22b

Image courtesy of Rebecca Webb Wilson; copyright 2010When a loved one dies, we are surrounded by people. Family members coming from out of town, friends and co-workers expressing condolences, church folk bringing food, neighbors offering to help out. The house may be so full of people that it is hard to breathe. This can be stressful, but it is also very grace-filled. All these people keep us standing.

Soon enough everyone will scatter. They will go back to their “normal” lives. You will too, except that your life is anything but normal. In fact, you have no idea what “normal” is anymore. The absence of your loved one settles like a pall over every aspect of your life—your eating and sleeping patterns, your social life, even (this is hardest of all) your understanding of your place in the world. The temptation is to withdraw because it hurts too much to do anything else.

After a while, anxious friends may encourage you to “get out more.” You may get a phone call announcing that, “You can’t stay cooped up in that house forever!”  Or, “What you need is a change of scenery! Being around other people will make you feel better.”

But by now you have discovered that the loneliest place in the world is with other people. It takes so much energy—energy you do not have—to make plans, get dressed, keep up your end of a conversation. Besides, you don’t know which is worse—people asking how you are, or people pretending that the loss never happened. Better if you don’t have to decide.  

Even if this is new behavior for you, pay attention to the signals of your own heart! Deciding to spend an evening at home by yourself does not mean you are turning into a recluse or not doing well. You may want uninterrupted time to just think about your loved one. Or look at photographs. Or cry. This is normal. Do not allow the needs of other people, no matter how well-intended, to override your own. Show yourself some consideration; treat yourself with compassion.

O God, when no one can comfort me, I turn to you. Amen.