When we’re reeling from grief, from a life-changing event imposed on us, we find ourselves repeating our laments, our justifications, our trials and tribulations. It’s normal to repeat ourselves.
As I helped someone discharge some of their grief recently, just by listening, I noticed something bizarre; they repeated themselves from two previous sessions; as if they hadn’t recalled they had told me already.
I wondered about this, slightly bemused. I thought this person was the type to have remembered what they had said to whom. I pondered it some more then left it.
Then I recalled my own expounding grief—near on ten years ago now—where I would lay upon the hearts of my parents the same old and repeated stories; and they would just listen. Stories are the making of us; of our identities. When our identities are stripped bare by grief, we reel from the reality that we have the story yet no basis from which to bear it.
We circle about, within our stories, as if in an aircraft holding pattern, and we look for a place to land. But no place comes into vision.
This poem may help:
The depths of despair,
Made poignant in grief,
Are seemingly rare,
Where there’s just no relief.
What helps is the repeating,
The repeating of our story,
It smoothens our soul’s meeting,
With the Healer from Glory.
That Healer, pseudonymously identified, is the Lord Jesus Christ. By repeating and rehashing our stories of loss, the hard times, etc., we are granted space and time to ponder our grief with the One who has saved us.
Space and time are all we need—that, and compassion. Such space is not a physical things; it’s spiritual.
Space and time—with the remnants of our shattered identity to piece together—are the resources we need—along with the compassionate support of loving, trusted others.
When we repeat the remnants of our pasts, vacillating between holding on and letting go, God works within us by his grace, in giving us the opportunity to let it go at the proper time.
The proper time we do not know—until it comes with a whirlwind, and then we know! And we are thankful when we can surrender our stories into the safety of divine sanctuary—for keeping until we need them for better reasons next time.
Let’s not condemn ourselves for the retention and repetition of our stories; they are the narrative of our lives and the glue that binds us intact in the midst of our grief.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.