Finding Courage and Wisdom on the Path to Wholeness
Dear TSJ Peeps,
Wednesday has arrived already and I do not know what life has brought your way this week. It has been a good week for us here at The Shared Journey. Yet I have found myself getting caught in that trap of feeling inadequate from time to time. I have pondered the power of words as well as the power of presence. So often I wish I had listened more as later I ask myself, “Why did I say that?”
It happened again and got me to thinking about the topic of grief as I chatted with a wonderful woman after church. This dynamite mom and wife is quietly suffering behind her gracious smiles and concern for others. She is suffering from knowing her husband has a deeply life altering diagnosis that brings pure grief to her tender heart. This kind of grief is often referred to as “anticipatory grief” ~ it comes with keen awareness of what is likely to bring loss of life or life as one has known it. And it is tough to talk about those unpredictable waves that take one’s breath away.
Talking about vulnerable topics such as grief often threatens to release those tears we try to dam up. And ignoring it or stuffing it or even turning it into a cause do not make it go away.
Loss is clearly a part of life and each kind of loss brings some form of grief or sadness.. Currently most of us are feeling compassion for millions of people who are displaced from homes due to the ravages of Mother Nature and/or others from their homelands due to oppression and persecution. I imagine they are lamenting loss and likely feeling comfortless.
In the face of such catastrophe, tragedy, fatigue and fears that so many are immersed in, it may seem ridiculous to focus on the more subtle disturbances of our minds and hearts. Yet, in the end what makes or breaks our inner peace is often what enters our minds. So I humbly share today’s story.
Separation from those we love or from what we love – either in our minds or physically – causes disequilibrium in the green pastures of our lives. And we cry out. Sometimes loudly and sometimes in the quiet recesses of our minds lest we upset others.
And there are all kinds of complications that come with loss of any kind. But today’s story is about what I often refer to as pure, sweet, and loving grief – the kind that bears no blame, guilt, personal shame, bitterness or evil in any of its insidious forms that often worm their way into our attitudes and actions.
Speaking or writing about human hurt makes us vulnerable at times. It honestly scares me, even on our WW posts. Words become clumsy at times, elusive at others, and sound dismissive, patronizing or trite other times. Yet, we know that words can be medicine. Words have the power to comfort and encourage. But the biggest fear I have is offering words that unintentionally hurt another person causing them to feel discouraged and misunderstood – even unsafe.
Have you ever talked with a friend or someone who is hurting and said something you fear did not come out the way you meant it?
Do you ever wonder why you said what you said? And only in hindsight realize how that might have hurt someone in some unintended way? Did it sound like I was dismissing its gripping reality? I pray not. Grief is not a trifle, and it commands our attention. But fighting against it leads to all kinds of inner turmoil when all it is trying to tell us is how much we love that person.
Yes, sometimes words tumble out. Apparently uncensored. And mine did the other day. It so happens I too have been learning about simple grief. The kind I heard in her voice. Grief became my reality when Tom left us to go Home with our Shepherd. The same for John when Judy went Home. And it set into motion a keen awareness of the reality we could grieve again. After all, we love a lot of people!
So you know what I blurted out, “It never goes away completely. It helps to befriend it. (That sure does not sound comforting, does it?) But I added .. It is best not to fight it or bottle it up.” She looked quizzical. I gently suggested, “Make friends with your grief.” Oh my. That sure sounded jarring and simplistic. (After all, who wants grief as a friend?) But it was too late. So I explained that grief changes as we wrestle with it…
“Like with a friend who rides the waves of life with you, weeping with you, laughing with you, holding your feet to the fire of reality, comforting you and sharing in your whole life even when it seems like you are apart for awhile, you remain connected to love for them. Such is the nature of sweet grief. It lets you know how much you love that person forever.”
When it comes to grief I cannot dismiss its pervasive reality. But I do believe that our Shepherd of shepherds will be Present to offer us comfort, courage and confidence when we welcome it.
And each of us is designed to be God’s voice, ears, hands and feet for each other. Love takes risks to love even more. And we are always the better for it.
Be friends with yourselves and share love with each other out there in the pastures of your lives.
Margie and Solomon