Bumping Stories

I’d like to share a story with you.

I am in the grief business. I sojourn alongside others as they wonder the wilderness and encourage them to keep going. Sometimes our stories bump up against one another.

I have lived 2500 miles away from where I was born and raised for going on six years now. In that time, many from home have died. Grief from a distance is a strange matter, especially for someone in the grief business. Every once in a while, I get “hooked” to a family and find myself processing a little more of my own grief.

Maybe it was because he was born the same year as my own grandfather. Maybe it was because he passed on the anniversary of my grandfather’s death a couple days ago. He had spunk. I liked that about him. I laughed with his family a lot. They are beautiful people. I was there as he took his last breath. I prayed that God would guide his steps and that he would have peace. When I said “amen” he took one last breath and then was gone. It was a sacred moment in time. They wept. I wept.

When they invited me to speak at the graveside this afternoon I was honored. It was a powerful service with full military honor. I have never kept my cheek dry for the 21-gun salute and taps… I thought about their father. I thought about my own grandfathers. I thought about all those boys who went off to fight that war and then came home to our mothers and grandmothers. When they folded the flag and handed it to his wife of over seven decades I thought of my grandmothers who both received their flags not so long ago.

I shared with them about thin places and how grateful I was to be a part of their sacred story. I gave hugs and condolences.

At that exact same time this morning my own grandmother collapsed 2500 miles away and went to be with the Lord. When I received the phone call I was not shocked at all. My heart was prepared. My mind was open. And now I am ready to walk down into the wilderness for myself, with my own family, and our own sojourners.

I cannt explain how it happens, but suffering is absorbed by community.

At the very moment God was using me to lean into their pain, God was using them to lean into mine. So I say to you, never doubt for one second if your story matters. We are all in this thing together, my friends.

Author: tomarbaugh

My mission is to courageously live an authentic life that influences other individuals to be their best selves.

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