Weeping Together

Alyssa Muehmel, Chaplain Resident

“WEEP” the sign said. Well, it actually said “SWEEP” and some other words I couldn’t see because they were obscured by a hospital bed, and in it, a man who laid dying. And next to him, his fiance and mother, holding his hands, weeping.

The sign felt like a command, “WEEP!” The moment called for weeping. I felt like weeping. This man was not old, he would never get to marry his fiance, his mother would have to bury her child, his death happened suddenly. I felt the tears well up in my eyes.

Sometimes people ask me why I do this work, how I can face moments like these, and is because I believe I am commanded to weep. In the New Testament there is a verse which is sometimes translated, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” I believe one of the holiest things we can do is to weep with those who are weeping.

In these saddest, darkest of moments, how can we find hope? When our loved one is dead and they will not come home from the hospital with us, when we receive the grim diagnosis, when our marriage crumbles, what can we hold on to?

Sometimes the only shred of hope to be found is that we are not alone. I believe that God weeps with us when we weep. Another story in the New Testament tells of Jesus weeping at the death of his friend, Lazarus. Jesus knows the next scene of this story, in which he brings Lazarus back to life. His friend does come back, and yet Jesus cries at his death. This story tells me that God sits in our pain with us, and even cries when we cry.

I heard a song this week by the band Rend Collective, which opens with this verse:

“Weep with me

God will You weep with me?

I don’t need answers, all I need

Is to know that You care for me.”

In the moments when there are no answers, when all we can do is weep, God is present. When someone else is suffering and we don’t know what to say, may we learn how to care for each other by offering our tears.

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