A grief observed: "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear" #dmingml

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"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

In my recent grief I have turned to C S Lewis's book, on his own grief.  It seems so painfully authentic and real, and yet so rare as a genre.  I've already mentioned how western society talks freely about sex, but is expostulates expressions of grief.  Experiencing the suicide and loss of my mother, I feel that weight of that cultural arrogation.

Our western culture demands people express themselves as authentic, personal and real, especially in their blogging.  Yet I feel stifled from even mentioning what has happened, however real and related to the themes of my blog, such expression might be. Even to talk of 'grief' seems an overplaying of my emotions.

Yet you can't get more real than death can you?  So with trepidation I offer this post, perhaps overly sensitive to my own expressions, and certainly this is more for me than you all.  I also offer my reflections sensitive and mindful that these are my own, whilst my brothers and family have theirs.

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Having recently taught about the 'violence of the Christian life (Jesus all the way through?)', that message has become rather more poignant for me.  As I stood with my brothers at the hospital looking at my mother, there seemed to be a surfeit of violence.  The violence and damage she had caused to her own body, the desire of the medics for us to hasten the end to her life with the violence in the act of withdrawing life support, and then the remembrance of all the violence my mother had laid upon me physically and mentally over so many years.

 

In that moment my prayer was 'Lord is your cross big enough to accommodate all this violence'.  And the answer seemed then as now, to be yes.  I was able to let her go, love her and know she would finally be at peace.  Psalm 121 was my daily reading on the morning my Mother passed away.  And the prayer of St John of the cross, has aided my prayer and reflections.  

The funeral took place a couple of days ago, at the Church my mother had found/rediscovered faith in during the last couple of years of her life.  At the end my mother was surrounded by her friends and Christian family.  

 

Then the committal/cremation took place with some of my mother's immediate family, who did not want to attend the funeral service for very understandable reasons.  It was a strange abutment of those two worlds.  As one friend pointed out it was a time of 'complexed grief', being situated within those dynamics, and a host of painful remembrances for many involved.

 

The weight of friends love and prayers was palpable, and the sense of God's presence within that was so sustaining and comforting.  Whilst the cross had become more expansive for me during this time, engulfing the violence of the past and the manner of my mother's dying, at this funeral moment the hope of the resurrection seemed so near and tangible.

 

And I found such resurrection hope within the stories from my mother's church friends, as they shared their memories of Mum.  Stories of a woman of generosity, love, passion and care.  That woman was always there, just one that it was hard for me to see in life, due to all the violence and strife.  It helped me to see and know that at the end my mother was well loved, well cared for and is now well received through that family in her eternal family. 

 

I realised that this church community, my extended family could see my mother through and in Christ, in a way I could not.  It made me appreciate again the body of Jesus, my family, through whom I was allowed a glimpse of who my mother was at her best, and of who she is now fully in Christ.  And that small taste of the reconciliation I will have with her, beyond this life and into the next was so melliferous. 


And grief has brought me closer to my own family, brothers sifting photos, possessions and memories, and my aunts, and grandparents being so kind, loving and understanding.


 

So dear friends reading this, thank you all again for your love, and care, for carrying me to cross, and for staying there with me.  The body of Christ, the Church of Jesus became my family when I was 17, and these past few days that reality has only deepened, and become more manifest.