There are no words for our grief. We are here together, wordless, numb, and hurting. We cannot make sense of this senseless loss.
But we are here. We are here to pay our respects to Hannah. We are here together as a testament to our love for our friend, our coworker, our wife, our mother. We are here searching to make sense out of a senseless thing.
Let us comfort each other in our grief. Let us take this time now to cry with each other, to hold each other, to wail with each other. I invite you to do this now.
In some traditions there is something known as Passing the Peace. You do it by shaking the hand or hugging all the people next to you, one at a time. You say “Peace be with you” It is done as a sign of reconciliation. It is done right before communion, because it is important to approach the Lord’s table with an empty heart – one that is free of the burdens of grief and anger. Those feelings keep us away from our true nature, which is love.
When we are angry or grieving we are closed off and cold. The purpose of reconciliation is to make us open and warm. When we are open we grow. When we are closed we die.
Many of us are angry right now. We want answers and there aren’t any. Why did Hannah have to die? Why did someone we love get taken away from us, so soon in her life?
Many of us are angry at God, and that is alright. Be angry. God can handle it. We are the ones who can’t handle it if we hold it in.
I’m not here to explain any of this. I can’t tell you why she died the way she did. I’m not here to tell you that it will all make sense and it is part of God’s plan. Because it will never make sense. And I don’t believe that God plans for us to feel pain, certainly not this kind of pain.
I believe that God is crying with us, is wailing with us, and is holding us right now. I believe that each time we share our grief with each other, God shares our grief with us.
God is there, acting through us. God is in the arms of the person you hug in your grief. God is in our arms as we hug them.
I invite you to be open. I invite you to open yourself to these feelings and to let them out. Cry. Wail. Talk about Hannah. Talk about how you love her.
Notice I said love, and not loved. There is no past tense with love. Love doesn’t end with death, it just changes shape. Where before the shape was the size of Hannah, now it has to expand. It has to get big enough for us to include each other in it. Every person here has a tiny bit of Hannah in them. When we share our grief with each other, we are also sharing Hannah with each other.
Open up. Don’t close yourself off.
Our society teaches silence and stoicism. Our society teaches us to have a stiff upper lip and that big boys don’t cry. Our society is full of it.
Cry. Let it out. Let it out because that grief will hold you back from life. That grief will hold you back from love.
That grief, locked up, will hold you down under the waves for so long that you’ll stop being able to breathe. That grief, locked up, will kill you. Maybe not literally, but you’ll be dead just as certainly as you would be if you drowned. Grief, locked up, leads to a certain half-life, a certain zombie like existence. Grief, locked up, only delays the pain, it doesn’t get rid of it. Let it out, and live.
Let it out because you have to. Let it out because you must, because you love Hannah.
Talk about her. Celebrate her life. Celebrate the time she spent with you and everything you did together. Do something in honor of her, something that you both enjoyed doing together. Donate to a charity in her name. Plant a tree. Paint. Write. Dance.
Many people say that to show joy in grief is to show disrespect to the person you are grieving for. I say that to not show joy is to not show the love you have for her.
We grieve deeply because we love deeply.
Be open. Be open because you love Hannah.
Peace be with you.
(Written as a eulogy for a young mother who died tragically.)