BY CHAPLAIN JULIANA LESHER, M.DIV., BCC, AND CHAPLAIN DICK MILLSPAUGH
We can all relate to feelings of sadness and grief as we experience loss and disappointment in our lives. Maybe you can relate to a Veteran we’ll call “Chad.” Chad came to my office and stated, “It has been months, but I am still grieving the death of my buddies in Iraq. Their lives were cut short. I’ll never joke around with them again, and I’m left to go on in a sad slump of grief.” Chad further expressed sadness over the fact that he did not know how to express his grief, and really didn’t feel like anyone wanted to hear about his feelings of deep sadness. He stated, “I’m a Marine. I’m not emotional. I shouldn’t feel at all. I should just get over it… whatever ‘it’ is.”
Or maybe you can relate to the wife we’ll call “Laura,” who called me crying and stated, “My husband is home, but he is emotionally dead. I’m not sure who walked back into our home. The man I fell in love with is gone, and there is an unfamiliar person who has entered our home. How can I grieve the loss of someone who is physically in my presence, but emotionally miles away?” Perhaps you have wondered if God cares about our sadness over the loss of someone still physically present, but emotionally absent from us. Maybe you are uncertain how to cry out about this grief, and wonder if the sadness you are feeling will ever end.
Then there is the Veteran we’ll name “Sara” who stated, “My life was full of sadness. I accepted physical abuse as a child, sexual abuse in the service, and then more physical abuse from my first husband, as part of my sad life story. Then a year ago, I met the love of my life. We have been happily married for three months and I never thought life could be so wonderful. Yet, now I have been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I’ve cried so much in my life that I do not think I have tears left to cry now.”
Or maybe you can understand the Veteran we’ll refer to as “Tom.” Tom sat down in my office and stated, “It’s been forty years of carrying around a junky heart overflowing with tragic loss and pain. Don’t think I know how to cry. Not sure I want to. How do I begin to grieve the layers of suppressed sadness?”
And so, for all the Chads, Lauras, Saras, and Toms, we affirm that real men and women cry, feel, hurt, and need to know that there is a God who cares for each of us and knows us by name. In this topic, we’ll ponder if God hears our cries of sadness, describe how we can honestly express our grief to God, and reflect on whether our sadness ever ends.