I spent several years of my life in ministry training. It was a rich experience on many levels, but I was absent on the day the magic wands were passed out. I really do want a magic wand these days. People that are near and dear to me are hurting in unimaginable ways. They are facing the reality of unexpected death. They are grieving. As I strive to serve them, I reach for my magic wand. I want to wave the pain away, but the wand remains elusive. Is there anything I can do to alleviate the pain?
Engaging the journey of grief is like being unexpectedly dropped into a jungle. I have never had any desire to live in a jungle. Lions and tigers live there. In the jungle of grief, such wild animals appear out of nowhere and create fear in our hearts. Fear prowls around in the density of such a jungle looking for someone to devour.
I prefer to know where I am and where I am heading. I like being in control. In the jungle, even Siri is rendered helpless. The journey through the jungle of grief is characterized by unexpected twists and turns. The pathway is seldom clear. We creep through the thick foliage not knowing what lies ahead. About the time we think we are on a good path, something unexpected happens. We subsequently feel as lost and scared as ever.
The only way to survive in a jungle infested with predators of all kinds is to have a really good guide. As we walk through the jungle of grief, seeking out people who have endured a similar experience is a pretty good idea. They have a healthy respect for the dangers inherent in the journey. They have experienced the same kind of vulnerabilities. A good guide will take our hands and walk us through like a protective father.
As I think about the need for a good guide, it reminds me of an important life principle. If I have successfully negotiated the most harrowing parts of the grief jungle in my own life experience, then I have a responsibility to go back in there. Who wants to go back? That sounds crazy! It is not crazy at all. It is imperative.
I have friends right now who have been dropped into this crazy place. I have no magic wand to wave them out to the other side, so that means I have to go back in. Going back in the jungle to walk with my friends is one thing I can do to help alleviate the pain. My encouragement to all of us is this: stop searching for non existent magic wands. Spray on lots of insect repellent and enter the jungle.