It is part of the human condition, at least while here on Earth, to live with grief.
Like big balls of double-sided tape, rolling through the medium we call “time,” collecting every regret, lament, remorse, etc. we rotate across. Sometimes the older ones eventually can seem to get buried under the new ones.
For years I had a significant sciatic-type pain in my lower back. Anyone who ever saw me teach for any period of time up until a couple of years ago would have seen me periodically have to bend and stretch out my back.
Recently, due to the work of a gifted orthopedic massage therapist (I had tried all kinds of other avenues without long-term effect), the lower back pain is essentially gone!
(incidentally, her contact information can be found at (http://www.appointmentcity.com/massage-therapist/tyler-tx/debra-williams/profile/142581)).
However, an interesting thing happened.
When the lower back pain was gone, I discovered that I had some pretty bad shoulder pain as well! It wasn’t that anything had changed, it was
just that when the lower pain was gone, I realized the other pain had been there all along.
I had gotten used to it…
And it had been masked by a more immediate and recent pain.
I actually even know when the shoulder damage was done – jumping out of a tree house at about age 10.
Especially things we face in childhood just feel normal to us… grief included. It is kind of like our lives just solidify around some childhood experiences and they seem stable, regular, unavoidable.
Sometimes this belief can stall out healthy grieving, I think.
There is more about the childhood issue, but that will have to be another entry someday.
Grief is what we experience when, moving through life/time uni-directionally, as we do, we experience something that is what we would have hoped for. The process of grieving seems to the course by which each of us moves forward in a progressively healthier way in response to the experience.
Someone who isn’t moving forward, or getting progressively healthier, then would be said to have grief, but not be grieving.
Grieving seems to come more natural to some than others. Some people seem more simply able to withstand the power of grief than others, even though all of us face that power.
One person seems to process more easily the divorce of a decade long marriage but another person seems to muddle through accepting
a high-school breakup;
One person faces financial ruin with optimism but another ruminates for months over a single bad investment;
One person rejects God’s love forever after the loss of a loved one while another’s faith is deepened and widened…
Certainly temperament, IQ, life experiences, and more play into it… but I cannot imagine that anyone outside of Heaven could onestly have any idea that would be accurate for the human race. In fact, my guess is that our beliefs play nto it more than anything else…
And what is more particular to an individual han their beliefs?
As humans, we are so complex that to simplify omething as deeply rooted into who we are as our grief is foolish.
Certainly Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s 5 tages of grief (from her 1969 book, On Death and ying) is the most famous attempt a creating some kind of documented process and the 5 are excellent and very helpful at offering a general format for the conversation… denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, but they aren’t the railroad tracks that every person takes, must take, or will take.
Oddly, grief is so individual that even when multiple people experience the exact same event, it is as though they were not experiencing
the exact same event when it comes to how they grieve.
Back to the death of my friend – think how differently the grief experienced by his wife, his parents, his boss, and his friend are! I would imagine we experience our loss of him in totally different ways and times.
In fact, comparison is one of the topics I want to touch on regarding the concepts that I believe need to be talked about in our grieving, but I think this is enough for one article, so we will talk more about that and other touchpoints in the next article, Lord willing, next week.