I have always associated that word with death. I have great respect for those experiencing grief due to the loss of a loved one. I have also lived in that space but know well those experiences are individual. Grief is a call to arms for us to “stand in the circle of grief” as beautifully expressed by my friend Blair Meeks in her book by the same name. We stand together, we listen, we sit quietly. Our presence is a witness to our care and concern, our love for those in pain. We respond in tangible ways that hopefully bring comfort.  And we pray. I am grateful to know that happens and have been grateful when our family has been the recipients.

But I think so often about the many others who grieve while still living. Those who waken every day to sorrow, without hope, without inclusion. 

Those who suffer racism and its personal and systemic effects…..systemic effects that translate to personal. Racism unrecognized, buried by conditioning. 

The immigrant designated as illegal and without value, fear their constant companion. Many separated from their young children, their hopes for a peaceful existence housed in detention centers. 

The refugee, here “legally” but equally disdained because of a mentality of scarcity, fear driven by inaccurate rhetoric. 

Those who live in poverty, the working poor, without access to healthy foods in food deserts, adequate health care, unequal education, the respect of their community members. Banished to live in communities that isolate until gentrification drives them to rental spaces miles away from jobs that pay minimum wage. 

Our LGBTQ friends who are maligned, judged and subject to limits that diminish their very beings and often prevent living into their potential. 

All have to “qualify” and prove themselves worthy, feeling they are “less than”, knowing they will never qualify.

And the list goes on.

So for these grieving people,  compassion loses to exclusion, prayers remain unspoken. We are not present. Care and concern aren’t emergent because there is no “end” to their grief and their sorrow is deemed self inflicted.

There is no celebration of their lives, their stories. Judgement shuts down knowing one another. The presuppositions paralyze any chance for building relationships. 

Categorizing by disagreement offends the gospel message that clearly calls us to love. Those verses don’t mention agreement as a requirement. 

We fail to recognize unending grief. We are afraid to look.