The Practice of Lament

A powerful way to embrace lament is by engaging in corporate or communal sorrow. While we understand that grieving is often a very private road, if we do not feel like we are a part of a community that sees and invites us to share or articulate our grief as best we are able, our grief process won’t be private, it will be lonely and isolating. We will begin to feel alone and unwanted. We will feel like we don’t belong unless we “get over” or “get it together” so as not to disturb others with our genuine grief and sadness.

This is why lament is such a beautiful thing, because it includes a public and communal expression of grief. It invites us to “weep with those who weep”, (Rom. 12) without judging or bringing commentary on their particular sorrow. If we are truly one body, when someone in our community hurts, the most powerful thing we can do isn’t bringing them a meal, or a prayer (those things are important), it’s acknowledging and entering into their pain with them.

How do we practice this together today?

Here’s what we invite you to do: write in the comments of this post something you are sad about that you’ve been grieving in your heart. Maybe it’s something larger we are all facing together, or something in your family or personal to your heart.

We invite each one of us to share with vulnerability and specificity in a place of safety.  The challenge in this as a community is how we respond to each person’s pain. Can we engage in corporate sorrow?

If something someone is sad over doesn’t resonate with you, or is from a different perspective than you, can you enter in? Can you empathize? Can we weep with them and walk in harmony with them regardless?

People don’t need our commentary, they need our compassion.

As people share things they are hurting over, your response shouldn’t be to encourage them, help them by advising solutions, or defensiveness that contradict them with reasons it’s wrong or misguided for them to be sad about that particular thing.

Our only response should be something like “I carry that sorrow too” or “I see you and make space for your sadness”. It may not be easy, but if we show up wholeheartedly, this exercise or practice of communal lament will knit our LW community together in powerful ways.

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  1. I am a critical care nurse. I have experienced personal loss from Covid. I have witnessed our community’s deep loss first hand. I have watched my practitioners and colleagues toil and neglect their own needs for the outcome to be the same! Great and devastating loss! Why didn’t you do this? Why did you intubate them? Why didn’t you intubate them sooner? Why can’t I come and see them? Why do I have to wear this? What’s going to happen to my dad? The national guard and traveling nurses came to help shoulder the burden and for a few weeks we were able to use the restroom and eat. Now we have lost many of our comrades and fellow colleagues to the mandate. Leaving holes, further uncertainty, greater division and more trauma.

    1. Kale, thank you for helping us see beyond “the walls” of the medical care/hospitals and the lives/hearts of those who are caring for our community. There are no words to express how deeply we want to meet you in this and carry and know your pain. You are all tired and worn down, and we see you. We thank you. We encourage you. Thank you for sharing and all we can do is lift you up through the ongoing difficult days ahead.