He was a beautiful young man – Native American, tall and proud of his heritage. An athlete, a musician, a college student – gifted in so many areas.
Then someone murdered him and dumped his beautiful body into the Kansas River. A hate crime? Certainly. Justice was never served. The perpetrator was never caught.
We attended the funeral – colorful yet tragic. His closed coffin draped with the blanket of his tribe. His warrior shield propped beside it.
Throughout the service – a blend of Christian tradition and tribal ritual – we remembered his accomplishments and tried to find comfort in his journey to heaven. Still, the loss – so senseless, cut deep.
Then a special moment, scheduled on the program as “The Maternal Response.” Women from his tribe, aunties, matriarchs, cousins gathered around the perimeter of the sanctuary. On cue, they began wailing – their mourning in various tones and levels of voice reached a crescendo, then fell to pianissimo whispers of grief.
At the loudest point of volume, tears rivered down my face. These women had given us a gift – permission to grieve openly, to add our wailing to theirs, to express our sorrow at the loss and the injustice. Five – ten minutes – of shared grief. Moments that became one of the most spiritually freeing experiences of my life.
As the last whimpers sounded, my toddler son wiped my tears away and said, “Mommy crying.” Somewhere in my soul, a piece of the grief was salved with a patch of comfort.
Now, years later, I remember those wailing moments. As I continue to grieve the loss of Deb, I occasionally face days when wailing is my only recourse. Somehow, it helps. Alone in the house or standing outside near the Colorado river rock I bought to memorialize her – I unleash the sound of my grief.
It touches a different place in my soul – gives me permission to let go, to underscore how much this loss hurts.
Wailing reminds me I am not alone in the grieving. Like the women in that church, my tribe includes Deb’s children and grandchildren, her brother and sister-in-law, the extended family and all who knew her.
The waves of our shared grief reach out to the One who hears the wailing of fractured hearts. He understands because he, too, felt the pain of loss.
Then somewhere in my soul, he salves over the raw place with another patch of comfort. He wipes my tears and whispers the promise of future hope.
©2017 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
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