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“Nothing that grieves us can be called “little.” By the eternal laws of proportion, a child’s loss of a doll, and a king’s loss of a crown, are events of the same size.” – Mark Twain
Someone very important in my life has died. Might have been yesterday. Might have been years ago. And with their absence, my life has changed, dramatically. How do I cope with the resulting, powerful emotions which can sometimes, quite literally, pour out of my heart, resulting in the sometimes chaos and confusion that always seems to follow such devastating loss? What should i do to ease this pain and grief? Should it be my goal to just try to carry on “as usual,” and to eventually turn to my “normal, daily routines?
I am reminded of a parable I once read, where “a vessel was upon the waters, in a heavy fog. Suddenly the lookout cried, “Iceberg just ahead!” There, towering high above the ship, was a gigantic iceberg. An authoritative voice cried out, “Meet it!” There was not a moment’s hesitation. It was a time for instant action. The engineer put on full steam, and the man at the wheel steered the ship straight into the iceberg. With a crash she struck the ice. There was a fearful shock, and the iceberg broke into many pieces, falling with a noise like thunder to the deck. The passengers were violently shaken by the force of the collisions, but no lives were lost. The vessel was injured, but not beyond repair. She rebounded from the contact, trembling from stem to stern, like a living creature. Then she moved forward on her way.”
I have come to think of my griefs and sorrows in a similar way. The iceberg. I would like to suggest, for this post, that whatever the source of our grief, the very last thing we should ever consider, is to avoid it. Or fix it. or improve it. In my personal experience, it has been and is, and should be, something that I very intentionally step right into. An open door. Walk right into the grief; meet it head on, and literally, carry my grief, wherever I may go.
I initially got this idea of carrying my grief, from a text in Isa 53:3-4 where it informs us that “Jesus carried our griefs and our sorrows.” And it got me to thinking , “wow, maybe His experience should be mine?” This thought has been a major epiphany for me. A true “aha! moment.”
For me, it is essential to work through my grief and pain. Intentionally walk right into it. Deliberately carry it with me everywhere. Step by step. Day by day. Coming to terms with my loss, and looking at how to structure my life, after the loss of my wife. Thats not an automatic thing. Intentional actions need to take place. Some counsellors will talk about how to “rebuild your life,” almost as some ethereal panacea to somehow, cure or improve the grief journey. But my personal grief and sorrow has been a journey, not an event.
When I think of myself carrying my own grief, I start thinking of ways to collect my thoughts, and this provides me with some effective “tools” by which I can share with others; and ask for their help where I actually need it. Yes, I may very well feel low, or lost, or bewildered; yet I find that I don’t really want to “restructure” my life, because I already have a life. I am living my life now. My life might be a lot different now; but different doesn’t have to mean less. Or, somehow, worse than ever.
CH Lewis once said:
“no one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”
I would agree with that. I have experienced a lot of fear in my grief. Most of the things I was fearing I couldn’t even see. fear of the unknown. Fear of the known. Now I can see why F.E.A.R. means
“False Evidence Appearing Real.”
It was such a thick darkness for the first month after my “Sweet Marie” died of cancer. No other family member or friend’s death has ever affected me half as much as this one did. We were very closely connected in every way.
About the F.E.A.R. factor. I F.E.A.R. that she will some day just fade away if I just do what everyone says to do and “move on.” And I hate to say it but a part of me has at times, conceded that
“I don’t know if I even want to feel better about things.”
THAT just feels like a major violation of some rule. But I don’t know which rule. Funny thing is; all the pictures have come down off the walls and my desk. Its all packed neatly into envelopes. I can always get them out anytime to look at them again. To be honest; I have not even known most of the time how to feel about her death. I know the theology that supposedly “comforts.” But then the F.E.A.R. factor moves right in and sets up camp. What I do know is that I can just charge right into the rest of my life, much like the boat and the iceberg, ; and this would include both the people in my life, and all of the events and situations, and I can feel free to carry my own grief and sorrows with me everywhere. I carry my grief in two ways:
1) I just talk to someone about it. Either on this forum, or in my own personal life.
2) I carry my own grief with me to other people by collecting my thoughts and experience into bite size pieces by which I can offer to others the same/similar comforts that I have received with others who are going through a similar journey. I can offer the pain I have to identify with others who have lost a loved one.
My personal path from mourning to dawn, has been:
1) recounting My Story
2) Recognizing My Loss
3) Recalling My Past
4) Recovering My Present
5) Replanning My Future
Jesus intentionally walked right into the grief and sorrows He faced. Jesus carries it to me, personally, through His Hope; and His Words of Promise or Comfort. Because He also experienced that comfort of God.
I am encountering a very similar experience, by intentionally walking right into my grief. And if I cannot carry my grief some days; I will either talk about it to God, or you might be the next one I call on the phone. (1 Cor 1:3-4).
“Practice carrying one another’s burdens; and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2).