A Few Reflections On Grief

t's been just over 3 weeks since my father died.  And it hurts worse today than it did the day he passed away.

I haven't written about it as of yet for the simple reason that I don't yet understand what has happened.  Or what is happening, for that matter.  My mind is cluttered with a dozen thoughts at any given moment, none of them actually coherent. 

Just yesterday, I was able to garner the courage to begin A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.  Whether it is too early for me to read something so raw and honest is yet to be seen, but the fact of the matter is, I had to do something.  Anything to move me forward out of the self-pitying pit that I call "grief." 

Here are a few observations about my own grief...a deep and aching hurt that comes from losing both my parents in the past 18 months.  I am really writing this more for me than for you, but if it helps you in some way, I consider it an added bonus.

1.  All attempts to figure out grief are ultimately futile.  It's a mystery and any effort to categorize or sterilize it fails and falls flat on t's face.

2.  Grief cannot be explained, it must be experienced.  You have to stand toe to to with it and face it head on when it comes at you.  Like leaning into a wave in the ocean to keep from being swept under, grief requires us to lean into it.

3.  Running from, avoiding, and hiding from grief only gives it more momentum with which to run you over when it finally catches up with you.  And it will, eventually, catch up with you.

4.  When someone you love dies, it is more than a loss.  It is an amputation.  Not so much like losing an arm or a leg, but like losing a portion of your heart (emotions) and your mind (thoughts).

5.  Grief brings paralysis.  I find myself sometimes standing in the closet or the kitchen, staring at a cabinet door or a shirt on a hanger with absolutely no thoughts going through my mind.  I don't even know how long I stood there before I realized what I was doing. 

6.  Grief renders you listless, stupid.  I can't think.  I can't speak.  I want to say something but can't force the words to come together in my brain, muchless push them out of my mouth.  Perhaps all my energies are busy fighting the pain and they are unavailable for thinking or speaking.

7.  Grief is sadness coupled with anger.  I miss my mom and dad.  I want to talk to them.  But I am also mad that my parents are gone, that my sons won't have them as grandparents, and that I can't have access to them in my 40s and 50s when I would really enjoy their wisdom and their company.

8.  Grief is a thief.  I am so consumed with self-pity and sadness that I am robbed of the fun and joy of engaging others in conversations, activities, meals, and laughter. 

9.  Grief is a gift.  It shows me not only how much I loved the one that is dead, but how much he loved me, and the absence of that love is a reflection of a deeper and truer longing that God placed in my mortal heart for immortality.

10.  In seasons of grief, people don't know what to say to you.  Death makes things awkward.  Could it be any other way?  I love and appreciate the cards, prayers, pats on the back, and clunky verbal attempts to make me feel better.  Don't worry about saying the wrong thing.  Just say something. 

11.  Grief is an assassin.  Feelings of hoplessness and fear come out of nowhere.  Un-announced.  Suprise attacks.  You cannot pre-empt their arrival or plan a defense.  You just have to face them.  Cry as much as you can.  Talk about your feelings.  Answer people's questions honestly and briefly.  And when you have to, slip out the back door when no one is looking so that you can be alone.

12.  Death is not a thing you get over.  It is a thing you get through.  Like walking through the valley of the shadow of death, the goal is to eventually pass through that valley.  I will get through this, by the grace of God. 

Thanks for enduring my ramblings.  In some small way, it helps to externalize the thing that brings so much pain internally.