Being a Neighbor in Grief

People associate being neighborly within your own immediate community, but it goes beyond that.  Last night, this post begun very differently in my mind.  It was focused more on getting out and being nice to people no matter how different they are from yourself.  This morning, in light of some devastating news of a friend’s loss of her infant son, I think more about being neighborly in the time of grief.

When someone dies or is dying, walls may be able to come down.  If you had strife with that person, suddenly you want to go say your goodbyes, make amends, make it “right”.  What would it be like if we made those efforts to forgive before it came to that last opportunity?  I think this means being neighborly.  Saying hello even when you’re uncertain of the reaction.  Being a support even if you don’t agree with the circumstances.  Loving even when you question your friendship or relationship.

I don’t know much about most of Kevin’s friendships.  We’ve met several times and some I am more close with than others.  I have to wonder how many of them showed up at his memorial, or sent him a message on Facebook prior to his death, to make amends, to say goodbye, to make things right.  I wonder if Kevin reached out to anyone before he died to make things right on his end.

Death seems to do two things: bring people together and tear people apart.  It’s odd that is can produce so varied a reaction of support.  I want to believe that we all have the capacity to be neighborly no matter what the circumstance.  Despite my own life circumstances, when I meet someone new and don’t get a good feeling about them, I often forget that I have no clue what they have lived through, suffered through and lost.  You can’t gather that information in just a hello.  You don’t know what each person carries with them.

I believe we are called to be neighborly no matter what the circumstance, and it’s really difficult.  In this year of bravery, I want to reach out to someone whom I don’t necessarily want to be neighborly with – someone who tests me.  I want to be a neighbor to them no matter what their circumstance and I hope I have grace enough to do so.

You may not always know who, in your daily encounters, is grieving, but I have a good bet that most of us are grieving in some way and that requires of each of us to be neighborly with one another, gracious, forgiving and helpful in spite of our want not to be.

This is my challenge to myself, and to you, this week.  Be neighborly in all things.

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