Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
Mourning does not sound like a blessed condition. Grief hurts. To sugarcoat grief is evil. Grief is a fact of life. Everything ends. Every relationship ends, if not by a break up, then by death. Every year, every month, every day ends. Every state of life ends.
In our lifetime, we will experience many occasions for grief. We lose a job. We loss our health. We move from a favorite home or city. A pet dies. A loved one dies. None of this is something to rejoice in.
Also, as LBGT people we face loses as we come out. Some may face the loss of family relationships. Some may lose job opportunities or a job. Some are rejected by a faith community. Some lose faith in God.
The beatitude does not say, “Blessed are those who experience loss.” It says, “Blessed are those who mourn.” The word “mourn” is a verb. A person who mourns is working with their grief.
Doing the work of mourning is essential to human growth, to becoming fully who we are called to be. As stated above, loss and grief are a part of life. Skillful mourning opens us to dimensions of consciousness and compassion that simply cannot be entered into any other way.
When a person mourns, opens to their pain and lets their heart break, the heart is opened up. An open heart is able to receive comfort. A heart closed to its pain is not able to receive comfort. It is like a clenched fist, shaking with tension. You cannot put anything into a clenched fist.
Thus a person who opens to their pain is able to receive comfort and thus will be comforted. The person who is doing the work of mourning will find in that dark night places within themselves that can comfort the places of pain. The finding of such places takes time and a willingness to simply sit and be with the pain. This person will also become aware of places, people, music, food that brings them comfort.
In this finding and discovering, the mourner will find they are not alone in their grief. Other people experience similar grief. As the mourner opens to their own pain and finds it does not destroy them, they are able to open to the pain of others.
Here is an important principle of growing as a compassionate human being. You can only open to other’s pain to the degree you have opened to your own pain. If you shut down to your own pain, try to push it away, you will do the very same thing with others pain.
Ours is a culture that doesn’t deal with pain and grief. We are told to buck up, given only 3 days leave for a death in the immediate family, if that, then we need to get on with life. How utterly inhuman! Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn.” We don’t mourn in this culture so at many levels, our society is cursed.
Jesus came to show us how to live a fully human life, a life that is vibrant, life giving, a blessing to all around us. He recognized the realities of life, the necessary losses that are a part of life. In essence he said, “Work with these losses. There is a deep gift here that will help you come to a place of comfort and peace in the midst of your pain. Then you will be transformed to a deeper level of love and compassion for all, transformed into a more human, human. This gift is my very self, which is the ground of your being.”
This is why mourning is a blessed state, not a jump up and down for joy kind of blessedness, but a deep, serene blessedness that is not overcome by loss and grief, but transformed by the work of mourning.
Notice that Jesus did not say, “Blessed are those who believe and mourn.” He simply said, “Blesses are those who mourn.” This is a beatitude for everyone, a beatitude for us LGBT’s. This is a beatitude full of wisdom and one we can embrace without reservation.
Registered nurse, Episcopal priest and lifelong Idahoan Rev. Deborah Graham helped found Integrity Idaho and served in the Diocese of Idaho as a supply priest, hospice chaplain and missioner to the Hispanic community. She earned a master of divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific.