The bereaved Olympics…is that a thing? I know thousands of “competitors” if it was. We were supposed to be enjoying the Summer Games this month but like so many others wonderful events, they were cancelled. Too bad our journey of pain was not cancelled.
How is the grief journey like training for the Olympics? This is a question I recently asked some grieving parents. “it never ends” “it’s so hard, grueling work” “You want to give up” “if you don’t train, you finish last. Is that what happens if you don’t grieve well?” “question the process” These are such great and real comparisons. Grief work is hard! It is grueling!
What would you medal in? “regret” “anger” “hope” “giving it to Jesus” “questioning” “longing for heaven”….again, such good responses. We all have things we are better at, and the bereaved Olympics is no different. It is different in the fact that we could probably medal in several categories and give Michael Phelps a run for medal record. What podium are you standing on today?
Speaking of the podium, what is your anthem? What song would play as they wrap the ribbon of regret around your neck? I loved one woman’s answer as she said she would need two songs because they both speak truth. “I am a survivor” and an old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.
Lastly, as I sat and ponder the Bereaved Olympics, I wondered “who coached you?” Who is the person or persons who ran along side of you keeping time, continually encouraging you to keep going, keep pushing…? Is there someone? Many people stated that was hard to answer. A few have been blessed with a “coach”/mentor who has experienced grief before and is there for them every inch of the way. And frankly, even they have a hard time keeping up with us beginners. But most feel others try but fall short and “just don’t get it”. (if I have a penny for every time I heard that I would be living on a private island right now). As I sat there and discussed my frustration with the human race, as compared to the animal world who seem to really understand living in community and protecting each other (that will be another blog post) and how we lack intentionality, knowledge and bravery to stay in there and support someone who is running a race they did not sign up for, that has taken every last ounce of energy to survive and realize how much they need a coach to be there saying “you can do it” “ I am here with you” and be part of their team. If you have teammates like that, thank them. If someone calls, writes you a note, prays for you, reinforce that behavior by telling them how much it means to you. Yes, that is like teaching your own coach, but they need it!
I am no athlete, matter of fact I have never competed in a team or individual sport in my life, unless you include piano or swimming lessons, a backyard game of cornhole or lastly my ability to make a story last forever, then I am not an athlete. I would imagine the crowd plays a big part of the sport, so do me a favor. Close your eyes. Imagine a stadium full of people cheering loudly, chanting your name. Keep going, keep up the hard work, and may some day you stand proudly on the podium as your anthem plays and you receive your medal in healing!