How do people deal with grief? More specifically, how does grief ever get “properly” dealt with? We all hear that time heals all wounds, and that God has a plan, but when you’re in the midst of a profound loss, what the fuck can can anyone say to assuage any of the hurt that someone is experiencing? For example, a brother of mine has discovered that his wife is not long for this world, and will be traveling to the undiscovered country very soon. I can think of no solace to offer the man; no words of placation or reassurance will make him happier, less fearful, or less hurt. No deeds of mine will replace the love he is about to lose, and surely no profession of God’s love for him will replace the love of the woman he loves, and will soon lose. What then does a man say to a brother in such incredibly and hopelessly trying times?
I suppose that a rational mind can look at the 80+ years this woman has lived and would surely count her lucky, and perhaps even suppose that death at such an advanced age is to be expected; that the shock and hurt of impending death should be tempered by the reasonable expectations that accompany the consideration of age. I’m not saying that the loss isn’t very real, or that someone would not have the right to be upset, and to grieve deeply at the loss of some great love, but surely none of us expect immortality… I’m not sure what I’m getting at. Perhaps never having a loved one of any significant familiar duration die on me makes it hard to relate, and thus, hard to console a grieving friend in such a situation.
And then what about love? Suppose that the person you’re in love with doesn’t die, but is nonetheless taken away from you. Is such a loss even the same? It seems that in both cases love is lost, but one is so final, and so beyond control or human influence that it seems, dare I say, easier to cope with. No amount of hope, wishing, planning, plotting, or scheming will ever bring back the dead. But what of the love lost while both former lovers still live? It seems infinitely more painful having lost such a love because of the hope that remains; the hope that things will somehow workout, that things could be repaired, and that eventually everyone will return to the person with whom they belong (as opposed to the person they end up with).
Hope, then, is an immeasurable source of grief. There is always so much more grief by virtue of hope than by certain doom. It isn’t as though hope is the source of all grief, but it is the case that hope turns grief into an almost unbearable condition; a condition in which the mind becomes consumed by ways to make things better… If only this, if only that. Hope condemns the sufferer to a life without a present, as if the “moving spotlight” that is life illuminates only the past, and the future, but leaves the present in bleak, desperate darkness. The light shines so brightly on the past, with all the joy and beauty, and all the sad missteps, that the present becomes a mere silhouette of what used to be. Hope illuminates the future with such ferocious and radiant a light that it burns and withers the eyes, leaving one to sadly close those hope-weary eyelids and resign themselves to the fantasies of what might be.
So this is life with hope. The clear and familiar past, the blind and gloomy present, and the burning hope-filled future that sets a soul on fire.
Just thoughts tonight everyone. No real point to it I guess. Just reflecting on my grief, my hope, and the accompanying sorrow. To these I raise my glass again…
Yours In Contemplation,