Hostess Mode

Young widow sitting on her bed, exhausted. Beeda Speis' blogpost Hostess Mode.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, Jesus goes to the home of Mary and Martha after Lazurus died. Three times, John mentions those who came to mourn with the sisters:

  • v. 19 …many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.
  • v. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
  • v. 33 …and the Jews who had come with her also weeping,…

It seems to me that in Biblical times, mourning was made part of the process, more so than now. After the person died, they were buried or put in a tomb the same day and for seven days, the family did nothing but mourn. A group of people stayed with the family for the 7-day period. Some of them were “professional” mourners who played instruments, sang, or cried and wailed loudly.

Compare that to today. We have to make arrangements. We have to find a funeral home, gather photos, choose music, ask people to speak. We have to write an obit and submit it to the newspaper. At the viewing, we receive family and friends, some of which we lost touch with years ago. Following that, there’s the funeral, sometimes the same day, sometimes the next day. Then, there’s the burial and lastly, there’s a meal. All of this happens within the week of the person passing away.

The family has no time to mourn during this period. They’re in host/hostess mode the whole time. That means being “on” when the only thing you want to do is curl up in bed and cry. It’s just not right.

I was at a meal served after a grave-side service one time and the person sitting next to me made a comment, that still burns me up years later. The widow, who was in her thirties was in that “hostess mode.” She was smiling and sharing stories about her late husband. She went from table to table making sure everyone was doing okay.

Her husband died from a tragic and unexpected accident just five days before, but you wouldn’t know it to look at her. The woman next to me commented in a hateful tone, “I bet she’s remarried within a year.” I snapped back at her about having to be a hostess to all of these people and the fact that she’s probably in shock and hasn’t had any time to process her husband’s death. She had a 9-year-old boy to care for who was also hurting. AND if she did remarry within a year that’s no reflection on her marriage to the husband who passed away; it’s no reflection on her. What’s the proper amount of time to wait? In my opinion, it’s when the time seems right.

I went through all of this myself. The hostess-mode is so deceiving. It’s not until everyone goes home and you’re left to yourself that you can finally take the time to mourn the passing of a loved one. I wish we still had the initial seven days to mourn and then do all of the other ceremonial things the next week, but it doesn’t work that way. So just be sure not to judge how “good” someone seems to be handling the situation. What’s on the surface doesn’t always reflect the heart.

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

If you’re grieving and live near me, my church is having a seminar on November 14th called “Surviving the Holidays,” to help those who’ve lost someone get through the holiday season. If you’re interested, contact me and I’ll connect you.

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Please join me this week in praying for those who are mourning and grieving the loss of a loved one. Please pray for their comfort and healing. Pray that they seek help and don’t try to go through the process alone.