Sitting Shiva and Empathy

Mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)

Rarely do we focus on God’s command to mourn with others, but it’s right there in the Bible. Often what that means is that we show up and then stay quiet. For example in Jewish culture there is the custom of ‘sitting shiva’ - spending seven days in mourning after a loved one dies. A biblical model for this is when the friends of Job come and sit with him in silence for seven days after his children die. Ironically, this is the only part of the grieving process that his friends got right! As soon as they started talking everything went downhill. Job 2:13 says this:

Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and sevennights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Besides not saying much (and certainly not trying to fix people!), being empathic is the other crucial part of mourning. Brene Brown defines it this way:

Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’

Who do you know that is mourning these days? What would it look like for you to sit shiva with them or to show empathy towards them? Ask God for the grace to enter into mourning today.