Grief took everything that was holding my world together and disjointed it from itself. My cognitive structure was fractured, like a skeleton discovered by an archaeologist, laid neatly on a table, but with no joints touching anymore. This disconnect seemed to take a while to set in, but it happened in an instant. What took a while was for me to discover just how thoroughly messed up I was. Only now am I starting to get it: not only how disjointed I became from loss, but how disjointed I have always been.
I have been thinking and praying about a series of essays to write this Advent. At some point, I realized that the only thing I can write about of any depth is grief. I think this is appropriate, and here is why:
Advent is about anticipation. As we remember the world waiting for Jesus to be born, after 400 years of silence during the Intertestamental period, we remember that we are waiting for Jesus to come back again to set all things right. Waiting is a penitential thing – hence the purple in churches that do liturgical colors. But it’s not just penitential in that we’re repenting of our sins. It’s that the sin and brokenness of the whole world are what make us groan for Jesus to come back. So, I think, Advent is a good time to talk about the brokenness of the world and how we have to face it most intimately: through deep, personal loss.
So I’m going to write about my loss, because it’s about the only deep spiritual thing I can write about right now. Until I work this out, I’m not going to be able to write about the liturgical year, or walking with Christ, or any of the other topics that I hope we can discuss as we journey through the next church year with our knitting.
I will do my best to speak in the first person about my experience, and not generalize. I will do my best to provide edifying content, and not to engage in naval-gazing, whining, or catharsis for its own sake. I am not a counselor or an expert, and in the grand scheme of things I haven’t lived that long. But I also know that I am not the only one going through this. Maybe sharing my story will give someone else permission to share theirs. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned for sure through grieving, it’s that others desperately want to help, and I think I can say something about that, too.
In some ways, I have to share this. I have been trying for over a year to deal with my grief, and have mostly dealt with it by ignoring it. As you can imagine, this is about as effective as ignoring a gunshot wound. Really, it only even appears to function when I turn off all sensation. Ignoring the gaping hole in my emotions is making me into a person I don’t want to be. So I have to go through it. Maybe this will help. Maybe you can help me by letting me write these essays.
Next week I’ll tell our story, so you can know where I’m writing from. Preparation for preparation for preparation – it’s a little redundant, but that’s the pattern of Advent.