RECALLING A TIME when my world had simply vanished, when everything had simply become nothing – when it still meant everything to me – I remained somehow disposed to another life – not my own! My own life was gone. It had been shattered suddenly, found to be brittle beyond my own cognisance.
It’s important to capture this sense of lostness melded with pain – it was somehow incomprehensible, and, as I look back a decade on, I still struggle to encapsulate just how morbid that time was.
Feeling vulnerable and lost, tormented or just confused, we may be rallying – but for what purpose? There is something untouchable about being in a place without solid identity.
At such times we wonder where God is and what he says regarding the mess we’ve found ourselves exposed to – often beyond our own making.
When one life (ours or a dear friend’s) is shattered and the memories just don’t match up with the realities, we’re to be forgiven for thinking God has gone ‘absent without leave’.
Grief is that place where no one is welcome, least of all our old selves. The old self somehow has become irrelevant, even though it’s all we have. What was a solid construction of many years and possibly many decades of work now stands as a ruin; a requiem of something of potential and actuality that doesn’t belong where it did anymore.
Grief is the sudden intruder who has ransomed us by stealth into a locale of sheer agony.
And still we ask “Where is God?” in this mess. We have to believe in the theology of the Footprints in the Sand poem if this grief is to be any good for us. We either rescind or advance – no neutrality may be afforded in life.
There is no point to a life of despair, so that the faith-life is the only stable staple; our only true hope is that the Providence of God (his protection, care and provision) is true – that God is creating out of the mess a fresh hope for a new start and a better life.
It helps us in our grief to know God is there with us in it. Only a belief in God can transport us through such a stark and unacceptable truth as grief, where we have lost something or someone so profoundly important, and also bring us fresh and more secure identity in the process, growing us.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.