Do we need to know there is a time for everything?

As Christmas approaches, we are in a time of busyness, gift buying and giving, parties and a time when all the advertisements say we will be together with loved ones.

This reminds me the following:

   There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

   a time to be born and a time to die,

   a time to plant and a time to uproot,

   a time to kill and a time to heal,

   a time to tear down and a time to build,

   a time to weep and a time to laugh,

   a time to mourn and a time to dance,

   a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

   a time to search and a time to give up,

   a time to keep and a time to throw away,

   a time to tear and a time to mend,

   a time to be silent and a time to speak,

   a time to love and a time to hate,

   a time for war and a time for peace.

These words were made famous by the Byrds in 1965. Their hit single popularised the words of the Bible found in Ecclesiastes 3.

It is true.

There is a time for everything.

There is a time to die and there is a time to weep and mourn.

I wonder, does it bring comfort to know that?

Most people tell me it is not helpful at the time of grieving a loss.

Later, when time and distance have softened the pain slightly, they say it is helpful to consider that.

The trouble with these words is they are very analytical. Very black and white.

We will never be done with mourning. But in time, we may find the space to fit other activities in and to be more philosophical about the seasons of our lives.

So on the one hand the words give comfort by reminding us that today we may mourn, but maybe tomorrow we will feel like dancing. And on the other hand they seem to trivialise the impact of grief.

To tell someone who is grieving that there is a time for everything and this is their “time to mourn” is to communicate to that person they have no right to grieve. Such a statement closes the lines of communication that need to remain open so the grieving person can feel able to talk when they need to. After all, we do not know when another person is ready to mourn less and be part of other activities more. Sadly, people are often told not long after the funeral that it is time to move on. I can’t understand how anyone could think you could get over the death of a loved one so quickly!

So yes, there is a time for everything. But telling someone there is a time to mourn is not helpful. But it would be okay if the grieving person came to that conclusion themselves.

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