Thoughts on Mourning and Comfort

By Marc Potvin
Pastoral Leaders Development Associate, CBOQ

Psychologist Edith Weisskopf-Joelson once lamented, “Our current mental-hygiene philosophy stresses the idea that people ought to be happy, that unhappiness is a symptom of maladjustment. Such a value system might be responsible for the fact that the burden of unavoidable unhappiness is increased by unhappiness about being unhappy.”

No wonder Jesus’ statement puzzles us. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).” I know very few people who feel blessed when they mourn. It is rather the opposite. We are neither happy nor joyful. Our emotions are on a roller coaster ride while our minds, if not numb, question many things. We live in a state of confusion. To mourn is to suffer. How can Jesus say that we are blessed when we mourn?

Is it possible that our Saviour calls us to recognise our grief? Not to run away from it but rather acknowledge it so that we can be comforted?

We easily connect our grief to the death of someone we love. However, we seldom connect it with our other losses. How often do we acknowledge that we mourn events such as retirement (the loss of routine, meaning, “usefulness”), leaving a previous employment (loss of the familiar and co-workers), moving (loss of a home where memories were made), changing church family (loss of friends or pastor), a serious illness (loss of health) or graduation from school (loss of a lifestyle). While many of those losses connect to new beginnings, when we do not recognise that we are also mourning, we find little comfort. We chastise ourselves for not feeling happy.

Through this beatitude, Jesus tells us that mourning is a normal reaction to loss. In fact, I think he encourages us to notice and acknowledge our losses, whatever they are. Then, we can seek and receive his comfort.

What kind of losses have you experienced lately? Bring your grief to Jesus. He will comfort you as only he can.

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