Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Grief a Month In

Journal entry 12      

My grief hasn’t gone away.

People around me said they thought I would be over my grief after one month. It’s not. In fact, it’s worse. I feel like I've barely started. This is going to be a long journey and not something that I can jump over. 

I feel no gratitude for anything good that happened in the past, so please do not talk to me about feeling joy that Ev was in my life for 18 years. I might feel that eventually, but not today. Not today.

This lack of joy presents a problem, according to the religious folk. Alexander Schmemann, a Russian Orthodox theologian, said, “God will forgive everything except lack of joy.” David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic monk, wrote, “Joy is the true expression of gratefulness.” And Hasidic Judaism says that joy is the spark that allows people to connect to God and their community. 

Do their words apply to people who are grieving?

Are people of faith not allowed to grieve? Are we supposed to be unfeeling servants doing what we're told? Why let ourselves fall in love in the first place if emotions unimportant?

Rumi wrote a fun thought, continuing my focus on dark matters: “With this pain, you are digging a path for yourself to God.”  

Buddha had one, too: “Life is suffering.” Two wonderfully bright notes to tape to my refrigerator and look at every morning. But they speak of my reality, so I force myself to think about them. Pain is a signal, but it is also a process. By facing it, pain can tell me where something is wrong. The message could be—do not flee grief but continue to embrace it. Evelyn, with her years of struggle with health, lived a life of suffering, and because of the insights she learned from dealing with her pain, she knew how to comfort others when parents and friends died.

The digging part, though, I don’t understand. You dig a hole. You clear a path. The image I prefer is Dante’s, blazing a trail through death’s forest, creating a path through the undergrowth and trees, and finding your way across streams and around canyons. 

Maybe Rumi is saying that God is in the center of us and we dig a tunnel (path) to reach this place. However he means it, the exhausting physical effort required to dig feels right for the effort it’s taking to make my way through grief.

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