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3/16/2014

The Sorrowing Woman

In the mythology of Ireland is the 'Banshee' a spirit being said to foretell the death of a family member.  The Irish common folk had a history of 'keening' by the women as they followed the body to the grave. This wordless crying and wailing expressed the deep sadness felt at this loss of life. It was said this was in imitation of the mournful wail of the banshee, which can mean the mourning woman spirit. 
 
Some others wonder if it was the keening custom that gave birth to the mournful cry and the legend of the Banshee.  The Banshee was most often associated with the large houses or families. These, in Ireland, where often the ones least connected with the common folk and their ways and customs. They were often adopting foreign values and beliefs.  Perhaps, at some time, the earlier emotional form of grief response was deemed inappropriate or uncivilized to some.
 
I was reminded recently of this crying and sorrowing woman at the loss of a loved one.  So often the church (and well meaning Christians) want to distance themselves from grief and especially from emotional displays.  Sometimes, though, grief is a painful, soul stabbing experience where the loss and hurt cannot be soothed my well meaning friends who mouth platitudes and encourage thoughts of joy in the midst of loss.
 
My own tears were soul deep responses to the jagged knife of death severing a familial tie both precious and loved.  The amputation of a family member is not something that a person should stoically accept or quietly endure. If there is a time for weeping, wailing, screaming until throats are raw and the body collapses under the weight of the sorrow, is it not  when a close loved one dies?
 
It does not matter if both are people of strong faith because in such moments we are only, we are merely,  humans.  Christ, as he prayed in the Garden for the cup of his own death to pass by if it were God's will, wept tears of blood.  Can I not tear my clothes and fall to the ground in the searing flood of loss?
 
As a woman, perhaps  I view this differently.  We are born into this world amid high emotion, blood, pain, and struggle and when we leave it is the same.

As a woman, I see things in a more realistic fashion.  I see the ties of family where others see only air.  I sense the call of the blood where others feel nothing. I hear the whisper of the beating angel wings as they lift high the soul to its reward when others hear only weeping.  I feel the touch of departed loved ones reminding me that they are only gone in body.  In memories and spirit they are eternal.  So let me rant, rave, sink into mourning but do not hush me....the loss of a life is worth more than a few cards and flowers, don't you agree? 
 
The writer of Ecclesiastes (3-:1f) noted well that there was a time for everything..." There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--  A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted..."
 
In time, I will move on..."A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.."
 
So right now, I AM the sorrowing woman, I feel deeply the pain and the anguish and that has NOTHING to do with the level of my faith or my loved one...it has everything to do with being the feeling humans we are, those created in the image of God who, like the seasons, must go through winter's chill embrace to find the hope of a spring.  It may not be your response but it is mine.
 
Like that work beneath the surface as a plant struggles to claw its way to the light of day, it may be dirty, dark and a little too raw, but it is a process I need to go through.  What I need are not platitudes or catch phrases, but a shoulder occasionally, a listening ear, expressions of friendship and love.  Most all, I need one who will stay close to the garden of my grief and, as those first hopeful blades of healing burst forth, take my hand.

 
[Another recent article on this topic is here]



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