I believe humans cannot understand grief until they suffer a great loss personally. Good people can sympathize and sensitive people can empathize, but only souls who have been personally bereft can feel the internal hollowness and enveloping pain of grief.
Grief is ephemeral like morning fog that wanders among the trees. Grief changes shape as we live with it, sleep with it, and rage at it until it balloons like a monster. Grief becomes a shroud when we pull it around our shoulders to shut out the world. My long season of grief began when I found my husband of 36 years dead in the middle of our living room floor of a massive heart attack. Grief moved in, bag and baggage, and I lived 24 hours a day in that hazy fog.
How could life change quickly as a heart beat…one minute pumping valiantly and the next second slowly releasing the spirit that was once a special human being?
Our grief is so catastrophic that we can’t imagine how life can go on for other people. I remember overhearing on the radio the next day the announcer tell how great the weather was going to be for all our fun weekend activities. I became hysterical, screaming at the radio, asking if he was including a funeral in that happy forecast!
A few months later, still deep into grief, I penned this verse on the back of a tear stained envelope.
The Great Train Wreck
Did you hear about The Great Train Wreck?
You certainly must have,
Such a gigantic calamity like that!
Thirty-six cars were derailed,
Loaded, productive ones too.
And innumerable casualties
From ages one to eighty-two.
It was in all the papers,
And townspeople interrupted
Sleep, council meetings, and each other
To tell the sad, sad story
And share each other’s tears.
Didn’t you hear?
How could you have slept through it?
Oh, now you remember!
Well yes, it was yesterday’s news!
Peace was a long time returning to my wounded heart. While I never cursed God and I believed that He had a purpose in my pain and that it would be to some eventual good somewhere, I was angry and felt abandoned. I couldn’t “hear” Him answer for a long time but eventually I realized that He had been carrying me in the palm of His hand all along. I learned to forgive the insensitivity of those who had not yet trod my path, those who would oneday learn that “yesterday’s news” can scar forever, and I believe their time of understanding will come.
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