Forgotten How To Mourn: An Excerpt from "The Message of Ruth"

Forgotten How To Mourn: An Excerpt from "The Message of Ruth"

As I've been working the project I've mentioned, I came across a special gem. The passage I read was SO good that I knew I had to share it. Below, is a quote from the commentary, The Message of Ruth by David Atkinson, pages 47-48.

Many of us have all but forgotten how to mourn. While we need to remember that the Christian faith takes the sting out of death, and that there is a place on occasions for the gentle word of compassion (‘do not weep’), we must not deny the pain of parting to those who are bereaved. The time will come when the Christian affirmation of hope of life in Christ becomes the reality of the new heaven and the new earth, when ‘death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more’, but there are still times this side of heaven when we will weep and lament before our sorrow is turned into joy.


The Christian faith has, of course, made obsolete much of the prolonged and painful public lamenting over the dead which was customary at times in ancient Israel. Though the worshippers Yahweh were forbidden some of the death rituals practised by the Canaanites, they still engaged in lengthy times of wailing and beating the breast after the death of a loved one. Jesus’ parable of the children lamenting the dead when playing at funerals indicates that some of these customs prevailed to his day. But whereas much of the hopelessness in such lamentation has been transformed for the Christian by the death and resurrection of Christ, there is still a very spiritual grief at the loss of a friend, and at the intrusion of death into life. Was not this why Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend? In our sorrow over death, we as Christians are sustained by the hope of the resurrection of the dead. But let us not pretend that death does not hurt, and that grief may not be expressed. Sorrow is real, and sensibilities renewed by the grace of Christ may well feel hurt more deeply and be all the more readily moved to tears.


After the initial shock of grief in bereavement, and the short period of enforced composure for the sake of others (for example at a funeral), real mourning very naturally leads into an experience of returning to emotions which some of us have forgotten since childhood. Feelings sometimes of guilt, sometimes of anger, are coupled with a tension which longs to be released in tears. It is after passing through this important phase in which grief can be expressed and wept over, that a person can then begin to consolidate and build again for the future. Too many of us have lost touch with our feelings, or have forgotten how to cry. For us it is often harder to reach that stage of rebuilding. Let these women’s tears remind us of the importance of not hiding our feelings, or pretending that they are not there. The way of maturity involves learning how to express our emotions appropriately. Naomi passed through the grief to the determination to build again for a new life in the future.
— The Message of Ruth, David Atkinson

How many victims/survivors of sexual trauma have "all but forgotten to mourn"? Hide their feelings? Live in pretense?

There is healing in tears.

 
 
 
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