Monday, August 13, 2018

Grief so silent, as if loss never took place

Have you ever had a miscarriage, or a stillbirth, or an abortion, or do you have a child with special needs, or have you suffered abuse? Statistics suggest that covers a large percentage of the population.
Please, there’s no need to self-identify, because many who have suffered many things but don’t feel free to share what they still feel they haven’t completely dealt with.
The issue here is much of grief cannot readily be spoken about. It leaves the common person feeling uncomfortable, besides the fact that the grieving person does not want to expose themselves emotionally unnecessarily. It is easier in many ways to deny what is plainly evident; to just keep moving forward.
But without dealing with the past,
the future can often remain clouded by it.
Another matter can be raised:
The initial loss event isn’t always
the most traumatic part of grief.
I know so many people who were not so much traumatised by their initial loss experience, but were actually traumatised more by how they were dealt with, whether it be the clich├ęd remarks from people who should know better, or from a response or lack of response from people they had come to trust.
Sometimes it’s the stress within the family environment that causes the family to implode. Things said in the heat of the moment, or perhaps something well intended but poorly communicated. Tenuous relationships become fractured because smaller more tolerable conflicts that occurred in the past, but weren’t dealt with, reveal pre-existing cracks within the relationship. Relational breakage occurs.
Conflict is a huge part of complicating grief,
whether it be the inner conflict
of not being able to reconcile the loss,
or external conflicts because of misunderstandings,
and often a combination of these.
Add to this, conflict we can have with God —
that He could ‘allow’ something like this to happen!
There is a silence in grief that is deafening in its harrowing quietude. So many people suffer in silence. So many people cannot access the healing they could do with. And so many families continue on that winding road of dysfunction because truths of reality cannot be spoken of as truths of experience.
Somehow there is grief, and quite a lot of it, that cannot be discussed or expressed or processed. Sometimes people would engage in counselling, but are put off by the cost, whether it be financial or emotional or time or other.
My wife and I are presently preparing to present at a Silent Grief conference where the focus is on exactly this topic: the grief that is not generally spoken about. The grief we are expected to move on from. The form of grief that doesn’t rate much of a mention because it’s so comparatively common, or worse, because there’s deep shame attached to it.
It is precious in our view
that we have had the experience
of losing Nathanael.
We never wanted to lose him,
but…
We truly saw God move in many, many ways, not least by the prayers of the faithful, and the testimony of our faith at the time, even as we witnessed it in ourselves.
We saw that God used Nathanael’s life,
even though he never breathed outside the womb.
And yet, just like you perhaps, I somehow feel guilty for talking about it too much, even though that hasn’t stopped me. I keep thinking that people are thinking, ‘Gee, is he still going on about that?’ I know some people will be thinking that.
But there is no overriding drive in me to believe for the needs of the woman and man who need space for their voice; those who need to be heard; or simply those who need to be acknowledged:
We want to say, your grief matters.
That it is incredibly significant.
That you’re allowed to feel gutted,
even years or decades on.
And, that you’re allowed to feel recovered
if you are.
We never ought to suffer in silence, but inevitably we do, because this world thrives on success stories and does not seem to like stories with a bad ending. There is an exception to this, of course, when the bad ending can be redeemed. And that is why grief needs to be a topic we can talk about, because processing our grief is the way to redeem what God has for us because we have suffered.
Grief needs space to be discussed, where the grieving are validated for however they process their grief. There are no wrong or right ways for dealing with the truth in our grief.
The grieving person needs to hear that it is normal to grieve, just as it is normal for the sting of loss to never completely vanish, and that it takes courage to get open emotionally.
They also need to hear that there is hope beyond the intensity and immensity of grief; that loss is an integral part of the growth process.
Grief so silent,
as if we don’t care,
give it a voice,
make room to share.
Grief so bold,
as to give it a voice,
reveals God’s grace,
that gives us a choice.
The Silent Grief Conference profiled in the picture focuses specifically on pregnancy and infant loss, and abortion grief.

No comments: