The Gift of Shared Grief

I had the privilege yesterday of attending the funeral of a man whom I had never met.  His name was Morris Kaylor and he was a member of a lovely Lutheran church in Conover, NC.  I learned from his son James, who is a dear friend of mine, that Mr. Kaylor was a man much like my own dad.   And while I did not get to meet him during this life, I have the distinct impression we will meet in the next…likely during the Palm Sunday service held by the multitudes as described in the Book of Revelations.  I imagine my deceased father and Mr Kaylor have  been introduced in the afterlife and have compared notes on their children.  It is my fervent wish that James and I can compare notes on our dads the next time we get together, as there could be much healing to be had in such discussions.

Thursday did not mark the first time I attended a service for someone I had never before met.  Mr. Kaylor’s service was the second time I have realized myself lucky enough to have friends so dear, that the death of their parent or parents moves me easily to action. For me, being with friends not just in “difficult” times but specifically in times of grief, is the best of gift I can hope to give them.

Several years ago, I went to the viewing of Katie Hurd.  Katie, I imagine, bestowed her lovely eyes and bone structure upon her daughter, Loree Charles.  It’s a pity I never got to see those eyes twinkle when I told her how much her daughter has meant to me during our friendship.  But when we were introduced, as it were, I put my warm hand over hers, prayed for her, and whispered to her just what a treasure Loree was (and still is) to me.  Mrs. Hurd likely knew that long before I told her lifeless form.  I have often said that I would walk across cut glass in my bare feet for Loree Charles, so being with her in her grief was no great hardship for me.

I’ve noticed over the last several years that the opportunity to grieve with my friends has become a gift to me.  (Yes, I’ve managed to make this about me again…amazing, aren’t I???)  It’s not that I’m seeking gifts for myself, but gifts are heaped upon me when I remember how incredibly moved I was by my friends when my dad passed away.  I was amazed at the friends who appeared at the funeral home and sent condolences, when many of them had never met Dad.  Although there were a few who physically could not be there, I knew their love and prayers were with me and it was an incomparable feeling to know that love.  They shared my grief when we were able to be together later and I’m so grateful for them.

Until I received love such as that in shared grief, I had no idea what it meant to be able to give it back.  And so it was my great honor to be included in the service for Mr. Kaylor.  Much love and blessings to you all.

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