Permission to Grieve

Beloved peace seekers,

We write while the result of the presidential election is still uncertain and may remain uncertain for some time. We wish we were with you to make you a cup of tea, or give you a hug, or whatever you would find comforting, probably because we’re reaching for some small thing that we can control: at least one thing we can tangibly make better. 

Our inboxes are awash in messages today encouraging us to be resolute and to keep working harder than ever for a just peace and liberation for all. There are good truths in these messages:

  • Electoral politics was never going to fix everything
  • No matter the result of any particular contest white supremacy and capitalism aren’t going to die easy
  • A vote might shape the context of our labor, but not the substance of it
  • This is a movement not a moment
  • Etc… 

Wise, true, important words that we believe and that we sought for months leading up to this election to use to inoculate ourselves and others against the possibility that we would treat this election as a finish line; that having cast our ballot we would collapse with relief back into apathy. Numb comfort is something we cannot afford with ecocide barreling toward us, fascism erupting in our neighborhoods, and the war machine revving up to heap misery on the miserable. So we affirm that message: stay in the struggle, keep striving toward the kingdom, the work of making peace is inherently ennobling independent of outcomes.

All that.

AND we’d like to offer you permission to grieve. It’s appropriate to grieve for the 230,000+ people in this country who have died of COVID-19 so far and the many more who will die in significant part due to the negligence and mendacity of our government. It’s appropriate to grieve for the migrants forced to wait in camps in Mexico, subject to violence and degradation by criminal cartels there, and the ones who are subject to violence and degradation in concentration camps in our country. It’s appropriate to grieve for the children kept in cages, and separated from their families. It’s appropriate to grieve for the black lives lost to police violence, and for all those continuing to endure police brutality and oppression by the state for protesting. It’s appropriate to grieve for the impoverished people living in the wealthiest nation in history which continually turns its back on their suffering. It’s appropriate to grieve for the plants and animals that share this planet with us when the daily toll continues to rise.

These things are worthy of lamentation, and if we as peace seekers have worked to teach our hearts to break where God’s heart breaks, then it is right for our hearts to break when millions of our neighbors choose to exercise their franchise to affirm all this devastating cruelty. Whatever the final result, it is sad to reckon with how thoroughly the death cults of nationalism, racism, militarism, and capitalism have distorted the soul of our society.

So if you need to weep, please do, because grief is not paralysis, nor despair. Grief is one of the few universal aspects of human experience. By itself suffering can isolate and traumatize us, but shared suffering can also bind us together and forge us into a more beautiful community. Suffering transformed by public lamentation can become the engine of a righteous fury that sustains us through adversity. We need your tears to fill that reservoir of love that one day soon is going to come rushing down in a flood of justice.

And if you’re not a crier, we’ll still make you that cup of tea while we take a deep breath, and press forward toward liberation.

Rev. abby mohaupt & Rev. Aric Clark
Co-moderators of PPF

We’ll be holding a virtual space to share our feelings and reactions on Friday.