Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Why grief is so interminably complicated

Photo by Ivan Karasev on Unsplash


This is the third and final in a series that emerged in one conversation with my mother and father as we reflected on grief — through it God livened my memory for what grief is.
Grief is not simply one level of loss — there are ripples and variations and ramifications of loss, an effect of multiplicity, in every loss. Have you noticed that, those who read this through experienced eyes?
We don’t just lose our partner, a child, a marriage, a dear friend, a career, our freedom, a livelihood, our reputation, a hope we’ve clung to for years, our identity. That’s what it looks like on the surface.
But loss is much more insidious and invasive than that. Reflect back over the loss that struck you and broke you, and in your grief you will find you also lost friends, had other hopes crushed, felt isolated and were impinged by overwhelming fear, lost your confidence, gave up on life, saw negative shifts occur in your career, and did things you would never do which you cannot undo or explain. You saw people not only turn away from you, they turned on you. If it was the death of a loved one, you possibly lost another person in that period too.
Loss didn’t just happen once,
it kept happening.
Grief involves a series of losses that
compound upon each other
to confuse and confound us.
And yet the best thing about loss is that it does confuse and confound us; from a gospel viewpoint, God gets our attention. It ends badly if all we do (with the little strength we have left) is shake our fist at Him. It ends well, though, when we admit we have less control over life than we thought we had. That’s the call of loss in our lives; that finally we wake up to the fact that without God we’re perishing; with God we stop entertaining harmful fantasies and lies. Truth, when we accept it, begins to set us free… yet I’m getting distracted.
The reason every day is so unpredictable in grief is we lose confidence that our world is stable. We almost come to expect more bad things will happen (which is another lie we should avoid believing).
Our world is unstable because our grief is so complicated. There are jagged shards protruding from all angles of our lives and they threaten to pierce every moment. Life is a powder keg of pain. We don’t know from one moment to the next just what is going to happen within or without. And some of those moments are so tormenting they seem to last an eternity. Hell is slow!
Grief is gravity and uncertainty
and inescapable and tortuous.
Considering the audacity of life to withdraw all favour, grief is the ultimate human challenge that we never expect. It betrays our understanding of life, leaving us in ruins from the inside out. But truly it only betrays the lies we lived in. Grief brings us into fellowship with truth, hard as that is.
Grief is intended to teach. Its intention is to leave us in no uncertainty as to how truly vulnerable we are. And the complexities and complications in grief are needed so we have nothing left but to reach out to God who will save us.

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