Families in Grief

Ours is not a grieving culture, even though on Memorial Day we observe a day of remembrance for all those men and women who died in the military service of their country. The World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and now two wars that have dragged on for years: how many sons and daughters will families give in defense of freedom? For those who have not experienced Arlington Cemetery or the Vietnam Wall firsthand the enormity of these losses cannot be adequately described in words.

Grief is not easily discerned. It’s not something we see with our eyes or touch with our hands. It is a matter of the heart. As an employer do you know which mothers carry grief in their heart for a lost son, daughter or husband? Do any of us in church know who is grieving?

This is a time of loss for our nation’s people in other ways, too. How many millions have lost their jobs? Their life savings? Their homes? Their farms? How many face ruin in the Gulf states from Katrina and now from the oil spill? How many small businesses are no more? How many family owned businesses are now worthless? How many people cannot afford the health care they or their loved ones need?

As the economy spirals and wobbles the pain of loss spreads. Behind the face of poverty there is grief. This is not intended to be a political piece but a reminder that all of us, whether bosses, managers, owners, workers or just ordinary people, have reason to grieve and reason to comfort those around us. Now is not the time to squash down our feelings or to ignore the pain of others with whom we rub shoulders.

When a neighbor or coworker suffers loss we also suffer loss. As the poet tells us in the Elegy of a Country Church Yard, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”