“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”-Matthew 5:4
Death is an inevitable reality that we must all face, both from a loss of loved ones and our own mortality. As a part of death, we mourn to express our deep sorrow for a loss of life. Mourning is a healthy and necessary response to death, yet so many feel ashamed to mourn and others suggest that mourning prevents people from moving on with their lives.
One common phrase that I hear at churches after a loss of a loved one is “our hearts are heavy, but the work of the Lord must go on.” The problem with this phrase is that it suggests that mourning in some way contradicts and conflicts with doing God’s work. Furthermore, the phrase is touted, primarily by men in the church who see constant mourning and sorrow as a sign of weakness and a fuel for laziness.
Much of the resistance to mourning is a part of the toxic masculinity that discourages the expression of sorrow or pain, especially for men. Yet those who discourage and refuse to express sorrow are being unauthentic and are failing to show their real feelings. Furthermore, those who refuse to cry and mourn are exposing their own weakness and insensitivity to the pain and suffering that exists within their own lives and in the world.
Mourn, similar to lament is biblical expression that is found in both the Old and New Testament. Approximately one third of the Psalms of David are laments and the Gospels in the New Testament indicate that Jesus mourned and provided blessings for those who mourn. To refuse to mourn and lament is to be silent to the pain and suffering that exists in our world today, both among church communities and the larger society. Mourning and lamenting is a part of doing the work of the Lord, because they are expressions of sorrow and sadness of the evils that persist and are gestures of compassion for those who are hurting. In a world where deaths from natural causes, diseases, and accidents are prevalent we must mourn. Furthermore, in a society where victims of state violence and extreme poverty die regularly, we must mourn and lament. Both for the losses of life and against the persistence of evil. To disregard the mourning of these things for the purpose of “continuing the Lord’s work” is to reject a fundamental nature of God.
The toxic masculinity and aversion to mourning and lamenting is detrimental to one’s spiritual life. To truly draw close to God and be a presence in the world as a Christian, mourning and lamenting is necessary. We cannot accept the evils and injustices of our world and reject the pain, the hurt, and the loss of so many. Let’s continue to do the work of the Lord by mourning with those who mourn and lamenting the evils that kill countless people daily.