I can’t say as I know much about grief. I’ve grieved for sins, for events and issues that did or did not take place. I’ve grieved over hurts and injustices. But grieving for the dead? This is new to me, as, previously, no one close to me has died. But now my mother in law has died. I don’t know how grief feels or looks; I’m unsure of how it all plays out.
Most cultures, at some point in their early histories, developed a process for expressing grief: wailing and cries; periods of silence; wearing black or black arm bands; sitting with the body; long processions and flowers and fruit; altars with offerings; images and religious symbols. For the most part, they provided for public expression of grief and support for the bereaved. Death was a public event, and there were social rituals. Grief was allowed to be expressed in an open and unrestrained way, and was communally shared.
Of course, communities were smaller then.
People used to put more time into the serious business of grief.
We’ve rather cleaned things up in our sanitized American culture. We’ve done away with community-wide ceremonies for the most part, unless someone was quite famous. We are mostly expected to contain our grief and keep it personal. We keep some of the rituals that separate life and death, but they’ve been muted.
We’ve been busy at our house, with the visitation and funeral planning and carrying out, with receiving cards and writing thank you cards, cleaning and hauling possessions and decision-making, driving around to banks and lawyers and donation sites. We thought we might have a “normal” schedule this week, but it’s not panning out that way so far. We’re still wrapping up loose ends.
How am I feeling? Honestly, I don’t know.
Up front, I am incredibly sleepy. We have both been fighting off a viral bug that’s been going around. The bug hasn’t gotten either of us to the point of being bed-ridden or miserable, but we’ve been doing a lot of sleeping when we can; that’s something that doesn’t usually happen. And whether I get a nap or not, my nighttime sleep is interrupted frequently; I don’t stay awake for long, but I wake up a lot.
I’ve also noticed that inspiration is dry. It’s hard for me to even try writing about this. It’s easier to just not think about the blog, or reading blogs, or writing.
Am I supposed to go with this flow? Let myself grieve? Is this what grieving feels like? Should I be getting back in the saddle and getting on with what we usually do? I mean, we still make meals and eat, we still do laundry, still go to church, still go to our volunteer activities. Everything is muted, though. Sometimes it feels like I’m passing through a dream. And then the day is ended and I go to bed, just to do it all again.
We keep catching ourselves: after church, we always go to see her. We ran into someone she hasn’t seen for a long time, and we want to share that with her. Did she see that article in the paper? Oh yeah – she’s not there any more.
She’s really gone, and we’re not used to it.
A whole ‘nother side to this is that we know she went home to Heaven, and she’s with her Savior, Jesus. Much abiding peace goes along with that. We are grateful.
So we have some joy amid the loss. We can’t be sorry that her fleshly body is gone, because she wanted to go home so much, and now she’s living eternally with God, just like He promised.
What does grieving look like to you?