I had two back-to-back funerals this week.
Both the deaths are unbearable, unimaginable and absolutely unfair. A funeral for a child is particularly sad and unnatural. A funeral for a mother who advocated and fought for her son who battled brain tumors, to die from a brain tumor herself, is cruel in its symmetry.
However, I find great peace in funerals. A friend of mine mentioned yesterday that there is something about seeing other people sad that makes her feel better. She acknowledged how this sounds awful and it does, but it is also the truth.
I find when others are in the same sad place I am, when we are sharing grief, being sad together is easier than apart. It is not like our grief grows exponentially--5 sad people are not 5 times as sad as one. The math of grieving together is more like this: one person cannot lift a boulder; but a crowd of people, they can lift that boulder up, together.
Grief is so heavy; the lift is sometimes impossible. It is also isolating; whispering in your ear that only you can understand the grief you feel or telling you that the sadness is too much to share or that facing your sorrow or facing the sorrow of others will just make you sadder.
But friends, that is lie.
Grief is healthy. Grieving alone is not. Funerals, memorials and wakes, these all give us a place to experience grief together. Just being in the presence of people who are sharing the lift of grieving for someone alleviates the back breaking work of carrying your sorrow yourself. Grieving together does not breed more grief; I think, instead, it lets it out and transforms it into compassion, love and a deeper understanding of just how connected all of us are.
When we grieve together, even with strangers connected by one person who has left this world, we find deeper compassion and love. We can lift our grief, together.