Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Grief Observed

Grief does not seem to have a logical progression, but we trust that God is at each turn.

It is perhaps counterintuitive, but on some days the pain is more intense now than it has ever been. In the weeks following Micah's death, we were not capable of grasping the magnitude of the loss because it was so new. We were also provided with the God-given human response of shock throughout those first few weeks. Now, the shock is wearing off. After these 6 weeks, we continue to "wake up" to what happened to us, to the horror of the events of that day, and to finality of our loss. After the last few months of joyous noises in our house--of a little boy laughing at the dog, of crying before naps, and of loving parents singing and reading to their little boy--the house is now so painfully quiet.

C.S. Lewis talks about his experience with grieving the loss of his wife in writing the little book, Grief Observed:
"I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don't stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there's no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I've already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn't a circular trench. But it isn't. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn't repeat. "

Many days seem like walking through deep dark valleys. The pain casts darkness over our ability to walk the path immediately in front of us. Without a lamp--that is, without the ability to see into the future-- we don't how long this darkness will last, where the path will take us, or what predators we must face. Right now, darkness clouds our horizon because our future has been intertwined with our hopes and dreams for our son and for the life that we planned to enjoy with him.

How grateful we are for the promises of scripture.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me,
your rod and your staff
they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

Regardless of how deep our grief is and could become, God promises that there is no depth of grief to which He cannot reach. How I love God's infinite power and reach--for while the suffering seems to me to have no bottom, that doesn't mean that God has'not measured the depth of my grief, and has (and will) give me strength to reach the bottom of it. While he doesn't tell us what the future holds, or that we won't be without conflict or suffering, we are promised that the grace he will give us in the future will be sufficient to walk through this valley of darkness, however long it takes, and whatever obstacles we meet.


  1. These words are helpful. Thank you.

    They conjured a childhood memory. In my hometown, there was a children's museum that had a touch and feel obstacle course (this was in the 80s...probably isn't there anymore). It was pitch black. I was always too afraid to do it. I think the intense fear I had of it when I was a kid keeps the memory and mystery of it alive for me...I still wonder what it would have been like. Basically, you walked, crawled and climbed through the pitch black, feeling your way through, over and under obstacles. I imagine, that at some point you had to reason with yourself that the designer of this obstacle course was a good person who wasn't sadistic or malicious. You'd have to just have faith that there would be an end. And there was. But, you had to feel through everything to get there. You couldn't *not* experience what had to touched, climbed over, crawled through...and there's no rushing through darkness.

    I long for the day when faith is sight, dear ones.

  2. I've thought many times this week that this must be the hardest days for you guys. When the glamour of helping you has ended for many and when the sharp pangs of grief become dull emptiness. Cory, I don't know you (though I still pray for you) but Heather I still think of you every day and sing "when He Cometh for Micah.