Archive for November 4th, 2021

November 4, 2021

Allow grief to do its good and tough work

by Rod Smith

TheAfterSermon – week 10:

Grief is a crazy companion, sometimes comforting, even refreshing.

Then, it will rip you apart.

When preoccupied, it can go away briefly, go into hiding and you can live, ever so briefly, as if you have never lost anyone or anything.

Then, out of nowhere, it will hit like a ton of bricks, playing its twisted game of hide-and-seek.

Believe it or not, grief has your best interests at heart.

It will do its work to revive yours, as battered and broken as your heart may be.

Let grief do its work as best you are able: its painful, beautiful, inner work. Allow it free-range. Full access. As it does its slow, deliberate, detailed work, you will continue to become even more beautiful than you already are.

That’s what it does: it turns hurting people into human agents of incredible understanding and grace – if you let it.

Your heart may be broken.

Your life may feel hopeless, but grief will ultimately deliver you to a hopeful destination and hope and courage will be yours again.

If you let it.

Try to get out of grief’s way. Allow silence. Allow yourself stop-and-think time. Allow yourself to remember. Play the music that may be painful to hear. Go to the places you are avoiding. Look at pictures, play the saved voicemails.

Watch the home movies.

Do these things when you are ready to do them.

You will know better than anyone when you are ready.

You may fall apart at first when you venture into the things you have been avoiding, but it is all part of getting ready to fall together.

Allow yourself speak-to-a-trusted-friend time.

Cry, write, read. Be angry if necessary.

Grief labors long over its ever-incomplete healing work.

Accommodation is possible. A full life is possible. But, keep in mind, the vacuum left by some loss is never filled, some losses are beyond healing.

It is natural to want to rush grief and to want all pain to be gone.

Who cannot want pain to be gone?

But, it is a crazy and unruly companion.

Grief breaks out at the most unexpected times.

Rushing grief, hurrying its work, will lodge pain even deeper into the soul only to later manifest as some unwanted reaction or unfamiliar emotion.

No matter how recent or distant your loss, welcome the tears.

Let grief’s first agents, first responders, flow.

“Time heals,” clangs the cliche.

Time doesn’t heal, not usually, not by itself. Time is time.

Time passed is not grief diminished.

There are some losses that are never “healed.”

Some never find “closure.”

This does not mean survivors cannot live full, productive, beautiful lives.

Warmth, two listening ears, and hot cups of tea accompanied by face-to-face-no-phones hours may be the most powerful gifts a person can offer one who has suffered.

It is ridiculous to approach a grieving person with a step-by-step generic packaged get-over-your-grief formula.

“What shall I do with this grief?” she asked, having lost so much, one thing on top of another, more than enough loss for many in a lifetime.

You shall sit with it.

Embrace it.

“What shall I do with the pain, the gaping hole in my chest, a wound in my soul, my very being?” he asks after losing his life-partner.

As difficult as that may sound, you will let it do its work.

You will go into survival-mode. Operate on automatic.

Auto-pilot.

Then, you will arrange your life around it, at least for a while.

“But, I do not want this, the anguish, this disorientation.”

Nobody does.

It is always an uninvited guest.

Crazy, unruly grief will do its work and you will emerge as gold.

You will know remarkable intuition and offer presence to others in ways now unimagined despite it being a path that you’d never have chosen.

The power of grief should never be downplayed or underestimated.

Grief is a private journey.

Don’t mess with it, not in yourself or in others.

It’s a crazy, unruly, companion.

Rev. Rod Smith is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in New Castle.