Recently I listened to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The Next Right Thing, with Emily P. Freeman. Emily interviewed Amanda Held Opelt, the sister of well known speaker Rachel Held Evans. Amanda lost her sister suddenly in May of 2019.
On the podcast, Amanda talks about her book A Hole in the World: Finding Hope in Rituals of Grief and Healing where she explores the concept of grief and lament–and how those of us in the western world are so bad at it. One of the things Amanda said that struck me was this: “No matter how much kind of emotional fortitude we may think we have, we’re all beginners when it comes to mortality and losing someone we love.”
Over the course of my life, I’ve lost all my grandparents, my parents, a few friends, three babies to miscarriage, and several other more distant relatives and acquaintances. So I’m somewhat familiar with grief, but not really. No one I interact with every single day–like my husband or one of my children–has left me with a hole I didn’t know how to deal with. So if it happens, what will I do?
Lament is a concept addressed often in the Book of Psalms. The writer cries out in grief in Psalm 130:1, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!”
And in Psalm 6:3, “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”
Psalm 38:9-11 says, “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.”
God is not afraid of our grief and pain. The psalmists knew that it’s better to identify and express it than to keep it bottled inside. And so this month our Redbud writers tackle the subject of lament. They share their personal stories, and so I would ask that you hold their words gently. Let them know how their writing affected you. Share your own stories with us.
Grief is not something that any of us want to experience, but it’s a part of our life here on Earth, and so we must learn to share each other’s burdens.
Thanks for being here.
Editor in Chief