I wish to thank those of you who have sat with me on the mourning bench these past five days. It was important for me to pray … and reflect upon … and simply feel the death of my son in light of the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Aaron’s death has been utterly devastating for me, my wife, my children. I am grateful for the gift of the words of Nicholas Wolterstorff and his poignant lament for his own son. His lament bespeaks my heart. I do not think I could have otherwise brought my grief to word.
I know that when confronted with the loss and grief like mine, people find themselves at a loss. They do not know what to say or do. Often they simply choose to disappear. It is easier to abandon a friend or relative than to be with them in their grief.
What does one who is mourning want from you? Just to be with them:
But please: Don’t say it’s not really so bad. Because it is. Death is awful, demonic. If you think your task as comforter is to tell me that really, all things considered, it’s not so bad, you do not sit with me in my grief but place yourself off in the distance away from me. Over there, you are of no help. What I need to hear from you is that you recognize how painful it is. I need to hear from you that you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.
The grief does not go away in a week or a month. Be prepared for a long stay on the mourning bench. I know you would prefer if we would simply get better, if we could just put the loss behind us and move on. But it does not work that way. Those of us who suffer the death of a child or sibling did not have a choice. Our lives were suddenly ripped apart, our hearts crushed. But you, our friends and family, you have a choice. It is a hard choice, I know. For to join us on the mourning bench is to suffer. It is to enter into the darkness of death and to await resurrection. And oh what a long and terrible wait it is.