“It is well with my soul.” To that song, I open some digital photos of the time, the circumstance, and the person and relationship, I choose to grieve. To the emotions are met tears. There is always a particular nuance of tragedy that God gives me to lament. And tears run down each cheek; three or four from each eye; big tears, leaving a thick watery trail down to the mandible. A few little heaves, too. The process takes up to an hour. I’m often left in the mix of exhaustion and rest.
At night-time I choose to grieve. I save up my sadness for a time when I not only honour it appropriately, but enjoy it. Not all enjoyment involves joy; some of it is deep, meaningful, and thick with eternal significance. We are touched deeper through sorrow than joy.
For me it’s a choice to grieve. It’s wise to grieve, of course, but there’s more to it than that. To grieve is to heal; to heal is to revive hope; and when hope is revived we are well situated to accept reality.
Handling reality is the chief competency of being human. If we can handle reality, accepting the hard days and the work involved in stepping each step of life, we have the only possession of value – the key input to faith. And strength becomes our acquisition; a gift from God.
It may be a real irony that grief is the only way through to that land of acceptance where grace becomes the bookable real estate that adds a miraculous factor to our lives. Through a real exchange with grief we learn how to live life. We learn what is valuable and worthy of our time, effort, concentration, and money. It’s relationships and it’s the flow of grace through our relationships that matters.
In touching my grief I touch a part of my relationship with God. With any of us life’s a matter of us and God. We are all cosmically alone with God. Grief, as we go there in surrender and acceptance, reconnects us with the experience of God.
The right kind of grief is an act of worship. It’s a humble and an accepting surrender. These are the reasons we have hope for healing. Because we honour the truth and accept our reality – though it involves very lonely pain – God grows us in our faith.
As I grieve at night-time, I know God is with me, because it’s quiet, because I’ve taken the opportunity to remove every other distraction from my mind, and because I refuse to deny the truth – there is grief to be engaged with – and God is right in it with me!
Grief is an aloneness best enjoyed alone; in that abyss where there, alone, God is.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.