Grief and Loss and Being Human

Today I cried.

And it was not some simple, silent tearshed.  It was a bit violent and a bit impulsive. And it was all because I have felt the pangs of too much grief and loss today.  I find it amazing that no matter how much time has gone by, the pangs of loss still sometimes return afresh.

I am currently taking a class on grief and loss.  In the past two days I have learned that grief is like a wound.  And just like any wound, it must be cleaned thoroughly in order to prevent infection.  When grief is handled properly, a person will heal from it.  But the healing does not mean that the loss will not still sting.  The tears shed show that a person was of value.  These conclusions are not my own words, but the words of those who have also walked the path grief.

For many who have lost someone, the holidays are a difficult time to be without the ones you love.  This was no different for me.  It seems that I most often miss my grandmother between the months of December and March, or beween the holiday season and the month that she died.  So today I remembered the ache of losing my grandmother almost seven years ago.  I remember the pain in my heart, the depression, the chaos, the inability to fully grieve at the time, the numbness, and so much more.

But mostly I remember her–her smile, her laugh, her gapped teeth, and her ability to love.  And I became devastatingly angry, that we live in such a broken world that I, and my peers, are too often denied the ability to experience such love.  Lives are severed and what we know to be the “norm” becomes a distant memory.  How tragic it is that the longer we live, the more we will experience and engage the deaths of those closest to us?

From the Inroduction in A Grief Observed:

I had yet to learn that all human relationships end in pain—it is the price that our imperfection has allowed Satan to exact from us for the privilege of love.

Death is kind of a funny thing because it turns those who appear to be the strongest into childlike beings exhibiting the greatest of weaknesses.  Death is our end in this lifetime.  Because of that it causes you to examine all you are.  It is a cacophonic reminder of what should have been and what will never be.  Maybe the reason why we try to ignore death is because we do not wish to discover our humanity in such a deep and broken way.  Maybe, instead, we wish to believe that all is all right, that time isn’t limited and we don’t need to feel the deep things of life.

But today I have also found that there is an inexplicably beautiful quality to death, or to grief at least.  It allows us to be human and to be known.  When a death occurs, we may give our condolences to the bereaved, but in truth a “sorry” does not adequately account for the weightiness of death.  A prayer does not account for the weightiness of death.  And in truth we know that.  It is the best we can offer, but it is simply not enough.  Nothing is enough to change life back into what once was normal.  So maybe we all should stop saying sorry and stop accepting such convenient manners of grappling with the magnitude of this distress.  Maybe we should wade into the murky depths of the soul and sit with each other in grief and loss–all types of loss–and learn how to love and become more human.

All of the troubles that you push aside now
are no longer your stories to tell
All of the words that never left your mouth
are no longer what’s holding you down

I’ll carry you home

-A World Changer


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