On turbulent times
Friday 28th August 2020 @ 10:51 am
People can be amazingly wonderful.
I recently received the following paraphrased message from a few different places. The message basically says – “Are you OK? You wrote a lot on your blog a few months ago and you’ve gone quiet – you doing OK?”
More often than not, those people know that in recent weeks my life has experienced huge significant change and loss. Just over five weeks ago I experienced the joy of asking an amazing woman to marry me. She, thankfully said “yes – of course.” There will be more to write about that occasion in times to come.
Then, just over three weeks ago my dad took his last breath and passed through the veil into eternity. The weeks before that were full in a way that did not naturally invite me back to blogging. Hence the last couple of months, have been … full.
Full of life, full of the ending of life,
full of hope, full of sadness,
full of planning, full of reminiscing,
full of suffering, full of joy,
full of empathy,
full of emptiness.
I have been saying for several years, ‘I’m not terribly interested in living my best life. I am entirely interested in living a full life.’
Fullness tries to recognize and live in the light of it ALL.
and the worst.
and the death.
and the thinning of hope.
I will, most likely, in the future refer back to parts of the last couple of months which I am not yet ready to share with the world. That is healthy for at least two reasons; firstly, there are some moments which can only be experienced, no words will ever do the experience justice. Secondly, I recognize there are things in these experiences which I know nothing of as yet, so I cannot share them. Grief is a multi–layered spiraling of non–linear complexity, involving the whole of body mind and Spirit – it is not predictable nor is it bound toward completion. It is a new traveling companion, not a nostalgia. Kubler–Ross may convince some people, with her five stage progression of death, that linear progression can lead to a final healing. But firstly, linear progression does not lead to a final healing. And secondly, that’s not actually what Kubler–Ross suggests in her writings on grief. Her work has been mis–represented in social–study classrooms for decades, and I think she’d be horrified at how ‘easy’ some may take her work and push it toward those grieving.
In all of this, and in all that’s to come. Two things stand out to me over these days and weeks.
Firstly, I am content.
I am content that Dad lived a meaningful and impactful life, where countless (literally countless) people and families hold witness to his encouragement, practical help and sustaining presence alongside them. His life’s work, was to work on behalf of others, opening wider the gates of God’s Kingdom. As I said at his funeral, faith meant nothing to him unless it was being lived – his Christianity was a practical Christianity. For Faith to be Faith, it has to be lived. I am so thankful for this, his witness.
I am content that we, his family, managed to do our best to honour his life in his final days and the days following. If there is a blessing, it is in experiencing how a family can function at their best while feeling at their weakest and most helpless – who does not know helplessness in the face of death? Life’s deepest reality.
Secondly. For years I have been sitting with those bereaved by some of the most horrific and terrible circumstances. I have helped run bereavement support groups. I have participated in funerals of tragic circumstances, and it has been a somber practice inviting myself to take some of my own advice.
‘Don’t expect to feel anything except what you feel. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel anything except what you feel. Breathe. Walk slowly. Breathe. Go easy on yourself. Breathe.’
What I did not know – and I honestly did not know this – is how helpful I have found the cards, letters, messages and conversations offered in Memoria for Dad. I have my stories and memories, but the stories and memories offered by others have given a wide and welcoming embrace to our family. They have given a more full picture than we knew in our home – hidden achievements, unknown encouragement offered, wisdom gently held out. To read and hear of these things
has been beautiful.
To have people stand on a road outside a church in wordless solidarity is an act of tribute and friendship I will never forget
To have friends who stood by,
just to stand by,
is a beautiful thing.
In short, I have been reminded in these fragile weeks that we truly are better together. Humanity at it’s best,
recognizes that life is precious, and it will end.
For all of us.
So I determine, once more, to do all I can to live well.
Live better together.
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