One thing I have noticed since my father died is how many people have lost someone they love. People I have known for a long time are just now telling my about a loss they have experienced. When we get to talking about my father, they feel the freedom to talk about their mother, brother, child, or whomever that they lost.
This has happened so many times that I don't think it is just people trying to connect with me. I think, rather, that it is they are already more connected to me by virtue of this terrible loss. They feel that connection and there is freedom for them to grieve a little more. When I say grieve, I don't mean cry and get sad, though that can be involved. When I say grieve I mean they get this little chance to remember their loved one and honor that person and learn a little bit more about what it means that they are gone.
So much of this life allows no room for grief. It allows room for initial sympathy follwng a loss, but not grief. I spend most of my days feeling OK, or even good at times, but then there are times when I want to find a context that allows for grief. It's kind of hard to find one when you want it.
One friend of mine took me to breakfast. All he wanted was for me to talk about my father. That is a good friend. We concluded breakfast with him saying he wanted to hear more about my father. That is a good friend I tell you.
When I first heard the emerging church folks talking about friendship, I really thought it was a light weight thing to hang your hat on. Yes, friendships are important, but really, isn't church, faith, theology more important? Nope. Friendship is the new family. Friendship is the new church. I am finding out now more than ever that good friends are worth their weight in gold.
Friendships are space for grief - and of course a whole lot more.