Anyone interested in applying? So what is a professional mourner? In ancient Israel, there were actually women who were paid to lament – to passionately express extreme grief or sorrow over something or someone lost. They were trained to express lament in a way that the mourner could completely identify with. They would be able to articulate things that we might only be able to feel, but not be able to express with words:
…Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them. Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids… Now, you women, hear the word of the Lord; open your ears to the words of his mouth. Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament. Jeremiah 9:17-18, 20
When the stay at home orders went into effect, I’ll admit I began to find myself playing games with that nasty beast called depression that I have fought on and off through my life. Or so I thought. It felt similar to depression, but was not quite the same. Anxiety? Fear? Certainly those are all valid responses to these past couple of months. Maybe you can relate?
It took me a while to figure this out, but I finally came to the realization that what I’ve truly been feeling is a sense of loss and grief. It’s a loss that I have not known how to articulate although I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m mourning the “normal” life we all had not that long ago. Yes, people talk about the new “normal” as if it is something we should be happy to embrace. I haven’t worked through the grief of losing the old “normal.” Surely I can’t be alone.
In almost the blink of an eye, our lives were turned completely upside-down. Everything has changed. Grocery stores were emptied. Millions of people have lost jobs. People have been told to not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Schools were closed with the expectation that parents help pick up the slack. Many of these same parents now face unemployment and uncertain futures with regard to how to care for their family. People are dying alone in hospitals because family members aren’t allowed to visit. Even the day to day routine things that we used to do now seem to come with some unseen risk. Suicide is up. Domestic violence is up. Mental health issues go unchecked. Hospitals closed. A simple run to the grocery store comes with new challenges – even knowing which way to walk down the “one-way” aisles.
I have to admit, every time I go to the grocery store I find myself wandering to the toilet paper aisle just to see if maybe life has returned to normal. It was weeks before I could buy a bag of flour. Yes, I was grieving over a bag of flour and the empty toilet paper aisle. Life has changed. Life will probably be forever changed from this point forward. To what degree, still remains to be seen.
Where are the professional mourning women today? We need you! Come and give us words that we might identify with – words that will allow our eyes to overflow with tears that stream down our faces for the losses we see all around us. Speak those words that can best articulate the angst we feel in the pit of our stomachs that we can’t quite seem to explain. Wail for us when our hearts feel numb and we are unsure what to feel.
BUT… fear not! There is a helper that we can call on! As believers, we know there is hope. We know there is a glorious end to suffering. We even have a voice in that suffering! Romans 8:26-27 says:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
So be encouraged heavy heart. Those feelings you feel? The Spirit of God understands. You may not, but He does and you can rest well tonight knowing that you are not alone.