Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Good Grief

It's a question more than a response. Is there such a thing as good grief?

Some might say there is, though I wish for the life of me that grief didn't exist.
I write tonight because it's time... grief is here... it doesn't seem to want to go away. Funny thing about real grief, it's easy to think "the blues" are bad - but real grief gives the blues a run for its money and the blues come up short every time!

I am one who enjoys blues music more than any other style - especially when it is fused with jazz. It just makes me feel good. I tell people; "the blues just makes me feel better - it brings me up!" They look at me like I'm crazy and say they don't like the blues 'cause it makes them feel bad. I don't get that.

I will tell you what makes me feel bad though - bad enough that the blues seem trivial by comparison.

A couple of years ago a very dear friend that my wife and I knew since we were first married 32 years ago, committed suicide. We've known her a very long time. Her sweet face and smile is ever present in my memory. For all her faults, she was a beautiful, sweet child of God. It was unbearable to see my best friend, her ex-husband, cry like a baby over her death. I love him as much as I loved her - and to have lost her this way was too much then. She decided it was too tough to go on and so she took too many meds and sat down under a tree in the woods where she wouldn't be rescued and died there - in the cold winter under a cloudy Kansas winter sky.

6 months ago, my wife's best friend and a dear sweet person we both loved a lot decided it was best for her to sit alone in a room and shoot herself in the head. She had suffered greatly over the years with ailments and pain many of us could not endure. She was divorced from the only man she ever loved and knew her two kids were grown and would soon be out of the house. She had come to a crossroads and decided to end her personal tragedy with a bullet. If you could only have known her, known how sweet she was, how caring she was of every person she met - you would never have thought she could have done such a thing. We still grieve her loss and wonder why.

While this may seem less important by comparison to the previous two examples - losing a friend can be just as traumatic. Maybe even more so. Especially when you know miscommunication and effort (or the lack thereof) and hardness of heart is all that stands in the way of restoring that friendship. About the same time as our friend shot herself in the head, I found a way to alienate another person I cared a great deal for - someone I envisioned as being one of our closest friends. My wife and I both knew this person and considered our friendship as valuable in the best possible way. The finality of death makes recriminations and regret a sort of moot point - but when you suffer a loss that could be restored and isn't - it is almost too much to bear. You know life goes on - but there is nothing you can do about it.

Fast forward 6 months - still no restoration of the old friendship. Not really anyway. We still speak - we're cordial. But nothing beyond that. An open wound that doesn't seem to heal - its just there - and I am convinced always will be.

...and then, this last week, I suffer the worst of many fates. My father died after a massive heart attack. Sure, we knew he was getting up there in age. But he was fairly healthy up until two weeks ago. He was independent, he was clear thinking and was quite spry, yet now he is gone. Nothing left but the memories of the good times and the bad times. Nothing left but grief.

After the last 6 months, which have been the worst months of my life considering all that has happened - I finally know what C.S. Lewis means when he says about grief - you want desperately to be left alone except for that feeling you couldn't bear for the house to be empty. If I keep losing friends and family members - I will certainly be alone anyway.

Alone with my blues records and my guitar. Will it bring me up then? I don't know. I doubt it. After my mother died a number of years ago - I took solace playing the blues until my fingers bled. Since there were no succession of deaths or traumatic loss of friends during that time, healing eventually happened.

At this point though, I'm thinking of dropping the "n" and the "erry" from my name. I'm beginning to feel like Job. What seems to be devastating losses - four times over - inside of two years is too much.

Today, Blues music is a quaint triviality. A grief observed from which there seems no end, is not comforted by any form of music.

I know God is there.
I know He is not silent.
I know His will is done.
I know He understands grief better than any of us.

Right now though - I need to feel better. I need to know what He has to say to me.

In any real measure of grief, only what He says is any comfort or understanding.

He says this: "Be still and know that I AM God".

He is - and I am not - and for me, for now, that will have to be sufficient.


At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your blog, it was beautiful. In the last seven years I have lost my mom, my ex mom in law, my new mom in law, my ex sister in law, my 31 year old neice, my new father in law and my ex dad in law, my 30 year old neice's baby and now my daddy. All I could think of when I got the call Dad had had a heart attack was "Peace, be still" I know God gave me that peace just when I needed it but then the human in me fell into a deep grief over dad. I know I will see him and mom again but I miss them both so much. I'm so glad at my sad times I can feel God close and letting me know He loves me. Thank God for you, little brother. Sharon


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