January 8, 2016
“teach you daughters to wail”
If I am to teach my daughters to wail the assumption is that I know already how to wail and I have something to wail about.
What am I wailing for?
Most importantly though is do I know how to wail? I can not teach what I do not know and so this is where I need to begin.
Wailing is a deep grieving. It is done at the loss of loved one. When a tragedy overtakes us, we can wail. When we have a deep sense of loss or overwhelming concern and sorrow for those we love or those we care for we can wail.
Wailing may be simply a cry of the voice but it often includes physical responses as well. A chest heaving, deep breathing, aching of the heart, throwing yourself on the ground, rocking back and forth, turning side to side. You may lose your appetite. You may cry tears. You may want to tear your hair out, or tear your clothing.
Physical signs of a grieving person can be seen in some of the following:
a shaved head
clothed in all black
clothed in all white
eyes not looking up but down, downcast countenance
clothing torn or disheveled
marks on the body, perhaps from coal, or ash, or cutting
Other words we may use to describe our wailing are: howl, weep, cry, sob, moan, groan, lament, bawl, shriek, scream, yelp, caterwaul, waul; sorrow, beat one’s breast; rave: ululate.
When we wail there is a need to get close to earth, grounded.
When we wail there is a profound sense of loss, greater that we may fully understand, as if we are carrying the burdens of the world.
When we wail there is a giving over of this loss, allowing the loss to flow through us to be heard by all and perhaps to be comforted by sharing it.
When we wail we recognise our frailty and humanity and inability to bring correction or solution to our problems.
When we wail we still have hope that God will hear us and bring comfort to our sorrow. We do not grieve as if we have no consolation.
Throughout history women have been known to cry. We are the ones who cry over everything.
Often we become hard and do not want to cry, as this is a sign of weakness and vulnerability. We bottle up our tears and put a lid on it.
We turn our face from the things that would hurt us, or we deny the pain and inflict pain on others to show our immunity to grief.
We do not want others to see our sorrow.
We do not want others to see our weakness.
Yet Christ, our Saviour and friend, wept openly.
He grieved publicly.
He was tender-hearted.
He was able to share in the grief of others.
If I were to grieve the way Christ grieved what would it look like.
Before I can teach my daughters to grieve I must learn from him how to grieve. I must be taught how to wail.
“Listen, you women, to the words of the Lord;
Open your ears to what he has to say.
Teach your daughters to wail;
Teach one another how to lament.
For death has crept in through our windows
And has entered our mansions.
It has killed off the flower of our youth:
Children no longer play in the streets,
And young men no longer gather in the squares.” Jeremiah 9:20,21
May, 23, 2017
Since writing this I have been learning to grieve, both openly and privately, for I have lost a “young man.”