Way back when, when colour television was still not yet mainstream, I was a little boy. I can’t remember that well about times back then, so it is useful to look at old photographs and home films. But I can’t look back at these without a significant nostalgia. I am often given to sadness, sometimes teary; sort of a nostalgic happy sadness at no longer being able to access those times when I and my family-of-origin were much younger. Still having all of my surviving family-of-origin alive, at this point, it is bizarre this sense of grief.
It proves that not all grief is bad; but all grief involves loss.
We could say that we have a huge capacity for grief, purely out of the capacity of our memories. And just because our memories fade over the years doesn’t mean we experience less grief. Sometimes we grieve because we cannot remember.
But again, this grief is not bad; but it is still a loss.
Life Is About Loss
We grieve because we have the capacity for memory, we are thinking and feeling persons, and because life changes—and attachments are developed throughout. There may be more reasons, but that is enough for now.
Because life changes and we are constantly gaining and losing things we are often betwixt between joy and sadness. And our memories are involved when we recall possessions of joy—and these possessions are not material possessions, but experiential ones—that have long disappeared from view.
At poignant times, when we allow ourselves to graze over the past, memories flood back and we allow our thinking to search each memory. Our feelings are more instinctive, apart from times when we don’t feel enough. But as we nurture these feelings we experience more of them. There is a blessing in feeling. And even if it is pain that we feel, it is good for us to give credence to what is part of us. Feeling, here, is very much about honouring our memories—the events that made up our lives. If there is pain, we felt it back then, and what happened was wrong, but it is still part of our lives.
Why would we do these things? It’s because life is about loss and one of the greatest skills we can develop is the ability, the capacity, to grieve well. There is no sense in denying the truth.
Grieving Makes Us Human
As we access our eternally personal grief we honour God by living as full a life as possible. God, out of his unparalleled love for us, saves us from none of this testimony for loss. These memories are a requiem for life experiences that mean so much.
We ought not to resent the fact that we grieve and that grief is a process that follows us from birth to death. It requires us to be courageous. And our courage reaps us a blessing of feeling.
If we would choose to deny or negate our grief we would choose to deny or negate vast numbers of pages from the volumes of our lives. It is not the true or best human experience to do that.
Grief follows us all our days. Human experience is about loss. When we can accept this, bravely venturing inward, we make the most of this strange roller-coaster life.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.