Wednesday, March 25, 2009


This coming week-end our church is hosting a women's retreat. Last year I was supposed to make a presentation, but had to cancel because Musical Friend's husband died. This year I offered to try again, since what I had to offer the first time can be re-tailored to fit almost any theme. Other than making the offer and having had it accepted, I haven't participated in the planning.

The theme, as it turns out, is Reconciliation - with self, with others, with God.

W-A-Y too soon for any of that.

* * * * *

I realize that I am feeling a bit resentful. Isolated. Neglected. Sorry for myself.

Our pastor mentioned in last week's sermon (which I read online) that she is doing some reading about grief work. I hate that term, "grief work." My "grief counselor" uses it, too. I think I hate it because it makes it sound as if the journey of grief is a project, something that you could pick up from time to time to work on, like gardening, or a legal brief, instead of the all-enveloping haze that you have to re-negotiate minute by minute.

At any rate, I think that she is doing the reading because she has recently spent a considerable amount of time with a family that has just lost a young child. I wish she had done it six months ago.

Maybe then she would have known that seven months out would be way too early to broach a term like "reconciliation."

* * * * *

Was it my job to be the educator? Our pastors were wonderful ~ spectacular, even ~ in the week after our son died, when there was so much to be done, so suddenly, and in such crisis circumstances. But I had the sense that the long-term process of grieving was not in their realm of expertise.

It was just a matter of intuition.

I suppose that I shouldn't use the word "just" as as modifier. After all, on the Meyers-Briggs, I am 100% intuitive. Not an ounce of concrete affects my approach to life. (Yeah, I'm working on that.)

The thing is, I think I was right.

* * * * *

They keep preaching on the wisdom that emerges from suffering. (Which is why I've been reading sermons online rather than going to church.)

I asked a friend last week, a woman who lost a child many years ago, whether she thinks her experience added to her store of wisdom.

"No," she said.

One would like to think that one might find wisdom, grace, perseverance, courage, in such circumstances.

Perhaps, eventually, such things emerge. Who knows?

No one who understands the cost would want them.


Joan Calvin said...

I hate the idea that we are better people because of the bad things that happen to us. I am not a better person because I had cancer. I do not think I have received any good from it. There is no wisdom in suffering.
Just my humble (OK, not so humble) opinion.

Sophia said...

Do you know Nicholas Wolsterstoff's book? I think it's called Requiem for a Son....

He has a powerful place where a friend quotes Scripture to the same sort of "you have grown so much" effect--something about God moving the mountain, from the Psalms, in discussing the mountain climbing death of N.W.'s son. His response is something along the lines of "What kind of repellent God would kill my son to teach *me* something?"

I have spent a lot of time being the educator too, and it is really tiring--though, for me, sometimes healing. At least in comparison to the alternative.

Kathryn J said...

I wonder if it's possible for somebody who has not experienced the grief that results from the unexpected and untimely death of someone intensely loved to be at all helpful to someone experiencing that grief. I'm too tired to fix that sentence but hopefully, it is comprehensible.

I have so often been at a complete loss to come up with any words to convey how I care for you and how often I think of you and how unimaginable your grief is to me. At one point, you blogged about how much it bothered you when somebody says "I can't imagine..." I can try. I can think about it. I can pray with you and for you. I don't think I even begin to understand despite your eloquence here.

I also recognize that there isn't any fixing it or making it better. Yet, that is what we want to do for our friends - anything, everything, and it all amounts to nothing.

Anonymous said...

"No one who understands the cost would want them."

That's exactly what crosses my mind.


Michelle said...

No wisdom was gained, only innocence lost, in all that suffering.

Lisa :-] said...

Compassion? Empathy? Perhaps.

Wisdom? Not.

In fact, grief robbed me of much of the wisdom I thought I had...

Stratoz said...

reading this and the comments, I wonder... what is wisdom? I think of 21 attributes. I think of God's reflection in a mirror. I don't know.

Sally said...

I hate the term griefwork too, I wish I had words to offer, but I have none, only silence....

Gannet Girl said...

Silence is good.

Kathryn J said...

OK I'll try silence for a while. Probably the best choice anyway.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I think people try to give answers because they don't want to face the fact that they too may have to live with unfathomable sorrow or pain.

Hugs during this difficult time.