A Brief Reflection on Grief   Leave a comment

The loss of a beloved one – their death – brings with it the unpredictability of emotions, diminishes our facility with language (the words “death” and “died” don’t flow easily from our lips, may be caught in our throats), and so often challenges our faith in God, the Church, and prayer. After the death has happened, the arrangements have been made and accomplished, and what seems to everyone else a sufficient “mourning period” has been fulfilled, life goes on around us. The sun rises and sets. The mailman brings our bills, the grocery stores and malls are filled with shoppers acquiring their daily needs and fulfilling their material desires. People marry, divorce, have babies, get jobs and lose them. Seasons change, new buildings are raised and people move into and out of the neighborhood. The world turns, life happens, people move on. But we, who have lost a piece of our hearts, our spirits, and our being, still remember. The life-stopping, reality-changing event remains with us, and it is like a secret we carry with us into the world. We look like everyone else from the outside, whole and complete; but inside, the missing piece of us creates a hollow, open space that no one recognizes. And that can sometimes make us sad or even angry: that while the world turns, there is no longer recognition from others that a part of us is gone.

What I know from my experience is that the process of grief is truly unique to each of us. It seems to me, at least at this point in my own grieving, that grief has its seasons. Right now I am still in its spring, where my grief is in almost full bloom, but its scents are subtle and its breezes mostly gentle. But some days my grief turns to summer, and the loss of my mother is searing hot on me, the heat of it is stifling, and I struggle to find shade. In time, I would suppose, my grief will transition to autumn, and its colors will change to reveal beautiful memories. And then again, the autumn might make way for the pain of loss to go dormant in its winter, with just enough of an icy reminder to make the memory of loss present, but mostly wrapped in quiet and peace.

This is just what I’m supposing, and how I’ve come to visualize my grief and to try and cope with it. Maybe it will be just like this, or nothing like it; I don’t know. Grief – its stages, seasons, the face it assumes, or however one chooses to characterize it – is one’s own; but not only ours. It is also the season, the Face, the sorrow, the loss, and the Redemption through, and Life in, Jesus Christ. It is all His, if we allow Him to be with us in it. I had thought to say, “If we allow Him to take it from us.” But that’s not at all how it works – or, only very rarely. The loss is real; the pain is real; the empty space is really, really empty. It will remain so, even as we experience it in its shapes and colors; its ebbs  and flows. The loss is ours, and always will be. But Jesus Christ – God and Man – is there to experience it with us, to comfort us, strengthen us, to weep with us, and simply be with us. And so coping with the loss of a loved one is really all about Him. Because in being about Him, it becomes about us and our beloved one, and the new way we must travel without him or her physically present to us, but now fully alive in Christ. Jesus Christ, the One who stared Death in the face, submitted Himself to it, and then overcame Death, is the Bridge between our life here and the New Life experienced by the one we love and miss. Through Him our love survives and thrives.

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Posted March 28, 2014 by palsa99 in Uncategorized

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