Thursday, November 3, 2011

There and Back Again - Grief

I want to draw a picture for you. I want to show you what this hole in my life looks like. It is similar to the astronomical phenomenon of a black hole. It threatens to pull everything around it into its total darkness.

I want to find a way for you to hear what I hear. The rushing wind that seems to come from behind me. It pushes me towards this black hole. Shhh... can you hear it? It whistles a lonesome noise as if it has been devoid of companionable solace forever. 

I want to grab your hand. I want to ask you to form a human chain holding hands. Grab hold of something solid and hold on so that you can keep me from being forced by this tempest into the dark nothingness.

I want you to know of my fear. This fear that is so strong it brings on physical reactions - near to fainting sometimes. What I fear is that if I get pushed into this blackness there will not be any way back.

These are the things that I am supposed to tell you about my grief - grief over the death of my precious Mama. It is grief that I try to hide because I fear it. It is grief that I try to hide because it shames me. I know that I should not grieve as those who have no hope. But if I have hope, surely my grief should not look like this. Surely not.

I am told to write about it. How do you write about something so huge, frightening, and indescribable? How do I tell you about this mysterious presence that wants to draw me from the narrow path without giving it more power?

I do not want pity. I do not want to petted on the head. I just want this horrible grief to leave me.


I did not want to follow instructions that I had been given to write about my grief. So I went on a jaunt through the rolls of writers that populate The High Calling. I would just find something else to write about and use the excuse that I was participating in Charity's "There and Back Again" project.

Thankfully I did not have to have the full Jonah experience. God gently turned me back to the task at hand.

In the THC members' list, I found a blog called Spiritual Reflections. The most current post listed was "November Faith". This intrigued me. I wondered how God's creation might affect those who live in regions that actually have four seasons. I saw a northern Autumn turn to Winter once, about 24 years ago. It was amazing to behold. So I sat back to read what the Reverend Marshall Davis had to say about nature and faith.

{pause for a surrendering sigh} Okay, Lord. 

By the second paragraph, Reverend Davis was writing that he has been conducting many funerals recently.

I will not escape thinking about my grief today after all. 

I read on and I realized that indeed God's seasons have shown glimpses of the divine plan to this man. Let me share some of those glimpses with you:
Through the barren trees we glimpse mystery. It is a mystery that is not acknowledged by the summery religion so popular these days.  Too often religion tries in vain to solve mysteries with doctrine and rituals. It attempts to give answers to questions that were never intended to be answered.

Some questions are simply meant to hang in the air and give voice to the depths of life. When life begins to reveal its barrenness, people ask, “Why? Why me? Why him? Why now?” There are no answers to these questions, except perhaps “Why not?” Such questions can only be met with faith. [emphasis mine]

Faith is living with questions without answers. Faith is laughing at stories told at funerals. Faith is smiling tears when you say goodbye. Faith is smelling spring while watching the first snow cover the pumpkins. Faith is living with the mystery of life.
{pause for another sigh} Thank you, Lord. 

I want you to know that I have faith - a tiny bit of faith. Maybe it is just enough? Maybe it is enough faith to believe that God will hold on to me and keep me from being swallowed up by this black hole of grief. Maybe it is enough faith to believe that He will bring people to hold my hands until the fear shrinks away. Maybe it is enough faith to give me the strength to write about my grief as I was asked. Maybe it is enough faith to believe that author of death will not win this battle nor this war.


My journey with Reverend Davis was not over with his post about November. I looked just below it and saw that the previous post was named "Death of Death". I will not even try to describe that to you. I need to take it into myself and sit with it awhile. I do recommend that you read it, though. His thoughts on death and the life we have been given in Christ are a worthy read. You can also read Reverend Davis' sermons online at The Sandwich Pulpit.


Finding Reverend Davis over at The High Calling and writing about his post is part of the "There and Back Again" writing project. If you want to read the who, the how, and the why, Charity has the instructions listed here. This project is enlightening and a good way to meet people at the same time. Please join us on Thursdays to write or just to read.


  1. I feel like I should be praying for you, Carolyn. So I'm going to, right now!

    Praying that God fills you with a warmth that draws you far away from that dark hole and into the light of peace. Amen.

  2. @Eileen Astels Watson That is a special gift, truly. You can pray for me any time you want.

  3. I can relate to so much of what you've written, above. I hate it when people say: "There's a reason for everything," because--even if there IS--God's Word tells me we see through a veil darkly on this side of heaven. If I can't understand the reason, the possibility of there being one is of little comfort. I prefer the Romans 8:28ish notion that God doesn't waste our hurts. I'm sorry for your grief in being separated from your mom. I'm VERY glad you had her, though, also for your hope of being reunited on the other side.

  4. Add my prayers to those already promised and spoken. I have not yet had to cope with the grief of a parent's death, but I have grieved the loss of my pastorate and all that that meant. It still hurts, but I dare to believe that God is bringing something more beautiful out of the wreckage.

    He is doing the same for you - and this beautiful, painful, honest, heartfelt, heart-revealing piece of writing is a small part of that.

  5. @Brandee, I might be a little peevish if God wasted our hurts, seeing as I have plenty of them. Thank you for your thoughts.

    @RB, I can imagine that losing a pastorate would be a huge loss that caused grief. I'm sorry that you had to go through that. Thank you for your prayers. I'm glad we've found each other across the miles.

  6. Caroyln -- This is so good. I am so glad to see what God is doing in your life through other writers and thinkers. And this deep grief - Oh, I know how to pray. I have felt a grief something like this. It lingers like a stench and there never seems to be relief.

    I'm sorry I didn't get a There and Back Again link up. I am in survival mode this week, and my brain just wouldn't go there and back with me. I did get a little post up about radiation today. This is where I am.

    Good stuff here, friend!

  7. Carolyn - I will be praying too - holding your hand during this difficult season. My parents are 91 and 88. They have begun to fail, and I know I will be walking where you are walking some time in the not too distant future. I look at them and understand the depth of your grief. Praying that He will simply hold you in His great arms of love.

  8. @Charity, so glad you made it over. I've been praying about you off and on all day.

    @Linda, thank you for being here with me. I hope to be honored with holding your hand when the time comes.

  9. Carolyn, I want you to read these words really carefully: THIS WAS A BEAUTIFUL POST. Really, truly beautiful. Honest, wrenching at points, and so, so true. Grief is not a thing to be rushed, even if you wish it away sometimes. It is something to be moved through, not around - feeling the pain, the fear, the black hole, but leaving room for hope, for laughter, for sweet memories. There is nothing anti-faith about it - it's deep-to-the-bone pain and it's a big piece of who you are right now. Jesus himself felt it!

    The extent of your grief is telling you the extent of your love and connection to your mama. And that is a good and lovely thing, something to be treasured. You are only six months into this journey, my friend. And please remember it is YOUR JOURNEY. Everyone grieves in their own way. And yes, writing is a great way to help move yourself along the path a little. So take heart, because this is simply wonderful writing. And believe me when I say this, it is not the least bit wordy!!! Thank you for posting this and thank you for directing me to what looks like a wonderful blog. Blessings as you continue to walk this road. It will get better - but it can't be rushed.


Thank you for joining me here.

Moral support, prayers, and witty comments always appreciated.