Being a minister I have witnessed some remarkable graveside expressions of grief. One woman stood there screaming obscenities at her husband’s coffin down in the hole! Another woman threw herself down into the hole necessitating the assistance of four big men to help haul her out! A husband stood catatonic throughout the graveside ritual as if grief had robbed him of himself and left only his recognizable body behind. Grief and grieving have the ability to rob everyday life of its normality as well as giving birth within ourselves to terrible dark feelings which can turn us into someone we no longer recognize! The day may even come when stunned and disoriented by grief we find ourselves lying face-down in the ditch by the side of Life’s road with no clue how to go on. What to do?
Loss is loss whether it is because of death or simply because someone has walked out. Some people offer the advice “Just get over it!” as if sheer willpower can banish the feelings of loss. Anyone who is actually grieving knows it is not that simple and willpower alone is not the solution! The key to getting oneself back even while grieving is to not get over it but actually to get on with living despite it! Yes there needs to be time on the sidelines from Life’s everyday demands but at some point we have to continue paying the bills, doing the weekly food-shopping, washing the laundry, house-cleaning. Ultimately Life goes on even after our loss fades! This does not mean that the feelings of sorrow will no longer be there. By attending to the demands of every day we slowly come to realize that those dark feelings needn’t completely immobilize us or rob us of living!
There is a nook in our heart where grief will always be lodged but time tempers the destructiveness of its presence. Over time grief’s fury becomes more like an ache with which one can live. The fact is we cannot love without having to ultimately contend with loss. But if because of loss we refuse to allow ourselves to love anyone or anything again then WE stop living even though our heart keeps beating! Real maturation occurs when we allow ourselves to reach out and risk caring about someone or something else again. If not a person then how about a kitten or a puppy? The key is to allow the heart to feel things other than grief like concern for another being, feeling happiness in their presence and to feel needed by another! To feel some happiness again is not a betrayal of what we lost! Just because grief is such a strong emotion doesn’t mean we allow it to take our heart hostage! The heart is capable of feeling a wide range of emotions simultaneously…. even such apparently contradictory ones as grief and happiness! What does your heart say?