I went to a funeral this morning. The priest compared the process of grieving to tent poles because my friend’s husband, the deceased, was an avid camper.
She explained that it is always very difficult to pitch a tent successfully without all of the tent poles. Sometimes, you open the bag and find out there is one missing. Sometimes, unfortunately, they are all missing. But most of the time, there’s another camper nearby who is willing to give up a tent pole to help a fellow camper. And hopefully, other campers follow suit until you have the tent poles you need.
We were encouraged to be the tent poles for the grieving family. Be there to ground them, support them, hold them up, and make them feel safe. The analogy was visually perfect for me. I imagined a tent without its poles and saw collapse, struggle, and imbalance. I even envisioned the tent flying away in the wind, with us there to bring it back down.
From the expression on my friend’s face during this colorful analogy, it was clear that she could see some of the same things. She liked the thought of having tent poles. She smiled at the idea. Hopefully, if only for a moment, she felt her poles, those people who care for her, holding up her tent and surrounding her with love .