Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

To Mourn, or Not to Mourn


“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

With the inception of social media the way we mourn has changed. When someone dies many people now choose to post tributes on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. When someone famous dies these social media sites are flooded with memories, quotes, and videos. This has become commonplace. We witnessed this just this week with the death of Robin Williams. Before I ever heard anything on the news or radio about Robin Williams’ death, I learned about it on Facebook.

Sadly, some Christians have spoken out against those who mourn. Occasionally they have objected to the attention a celebrity or famous person has received. Other times they have objected to the life of the celebrity or the way they died. I will be the first to admit that we are a nation obsessed with celebrity. We often lift people up who should not be lifted up. We glamorize people who do little or nothing to contribute to society. Our emphasis on celebrity has gotten out of hand, but does this mean we should reject anyone who has become famous? Does this mean we should never mourn the loss of a celebrity?

I cannot speak for anyone else, but when I hear of the passing of someone like Robin Williams or Philip Seymour Hoffman there are several things that go through my mind. When both of these men passed away I posted something on Facebook celebrating their talent. These men made people laugh and moved people with their acting performances. They brought beauty into this world. They brought joy to people’s lives, and they made us think, feel, and perhaps look at the world a little differently. We should be able to celebrate these things without being condemned by someone else. We should always strive to lift up what is good and beautiful.

One of the strangest arguments I have encountered is that instead of remembering a celebrity who died on Facebook, Christians should be posting about Jesus. I post about Jesus all the time. By posting about Robin Williams or Philip Seymour Hoffman I am not forsaking God. This line of reasoning is ludicrous. Would these same people stand outside a funeral and criticize everyone who attended the funeral because they should have been out evangelizing? I will be the first to admit I need to do more. I need to speak more about Jesus. I need to do more in the name of Jesus. I need to lift Jesus up more, but taking the time to recognize a tragedy or mourn the loss of a human being does not mean I am forsaking Jesus or loving him any less.

Perhaps most disappointing has been some comments regarding suicide and drug addiction. I have seen numerous comments and a few blog posts on why we should not mourn or pay tribute to people who have lost their life in one of these ways. When this is the way we respond to the death of a human life we are sending the wrong message to the world. When someone dies our first response should not be to condemn the life that has been lost or those who are mourning. The world needs to see compassion from us. They need to know we care. There are people struggling with depression and drug addiction all around us and to dismiss these diseases is to show a lack of compassion. The way of Jesus is not to condemn people who are hurting, but to come alongside them and to help them in their time of trouble. To help, show compassion, or mourn the effects of drug addiction or depression is not to approve of them. When we do these things we are showing empathy. We are trying to understand and help people escape the darkness they feel encompassed by. To fail to act in this way is to turn our backs on people who desperately need help.

There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccl. 3:4). When someone dies, no matter how they die, it is a time to mourn and weep. For me, the tragic deaths of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman are more sad because of the demons they faced. No one knows how they felt or what they were facing, and we should never pretend like we do know. In the midst of tragedy our response should be to mourn and weep. It is not a time to lecture. It is not a time to criticize. It is not a time to condemn.

So, if you have a favorite memory, share it. If you would like to mourn or weep, that’s ok. If you want to show compassion, that would be a welcome response in a world that often lacks it.

3 Responses to “To Mourn, or Not to Mourn”

  1. Thank you for addressing this subject so eloquently, I was hoping someone would.

  2. Thank you for this. Yesterday, I tried to express some of these ideas in a comment to a Facebook post. As the previous comment says, you have done so much more eloquently. Thank you!

  3. […] grief, mourning & respect: To Mourn, or Not to Mourn [required […]

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