Monday, February 16, 2009

Grief work/books/death/marriage breakdown


People have given us a number of books to help us deal with "grief".

Personally, I feel I have enough things to work with, help me, with what I have all the time: my Bible, my hymnbook, my Luther.

I keep coming back to Job's story, where no real answer is offered, except: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."

I think this, too, in relation to some relatives and relationships and things that have have been quite wrong: "They've given and they've taken; may the Lord bless them."

And I just about forgot this one: "I've given and I've taken; may the Lord and the others forgive me, too."

This sounds kind of pious or fatalistic, but there is really no choice. If there were choices, it would be a different matter.


On the other hand, it is not about us. It is for the young man we grieve. It is for what was good and right, that is gone, for which we grieve, and for what could have been. He is not with us. He could not work on his dreams. Still, it is like my brother-in-law Herbert told me: "It is we who are left behind who still struggle." So, it's about us, too.

We have our memories and they are like that famous two-edged sword; they comfort and they cut. They make us laugh and they make us cry. They hit us out of nowhere, like a ton of bricks or a ray of light.

Like Gerald said, your memories cannot sustain you. In fact, I would say--they can also very well slay, you.-- No condolence card ever says that.

Since, the last post I made earlier today, on marriage, I am thinking of my dear friends who have suffered marriage break-down. Marriage-breakdown does not seem so much an "act of God". Therefore, individuals would be more prone to blaming themselves. Individuals may never get a condolence card or presented with a book on grief. Surely, memories would not sustain a person, either.

There is this basic pain, sin, wrong, death, however, in everything that is suffered. We all need forgiveness, in different ways, the same. We all hurt, in different ways, yet the same. You might benefit from a grief book. Maybe.

These are the books that have come into our house:
--A man (who's son was involved in a group killing at a party) gave us: "When Life Hurts. A Three-Fold Path to Healing" by Brian C. Stiller. I find it a good book. It broadens one's outlook and puts you on a biblical understanding. But it is said to be out of print.

--An atheist gave me "The Shack", which everyone has heard of. I started reading it. I find it basically too weird, so far. I may or may not finish it. Certainly, I'll ask the atheist what he got out of it. There may be some nuggets, since so many people think it's so great.

--Andrea bought a grief devotional book, that deals with a Bible passage every day for one year. She likes it. We may get some for others. (see pic. above) I haven't read much of it, because she's got it. Does Concordia Publishing House have anything like this? (Not that anyone has mentioned it or given it to us.) (Actually, I don't know anyone else who buys things from Concordia Publishing House besides myself. It's not too well promoted here.)

I think reading those books, might be a bit like joining a support group (which is what others have recommended). You hear the pain of others and the way they've coped. You get a little out of your own navel and see and hear others. You are certainly not alone in your grief. And you must trust God and let him work it out.

5 comments:

steve martin said...

This may sound Neandrathal, but when faced with grief, or anger, or fear, or depression...I just work through it inside of myself, with the help of God, trying to stay busy, trying to be around people, trying to do what I was put on earth to do.

Whenever I read about, or talk to others who have gone through, or who are going through a similar situation, it just seems to open up the wound all over again.

Many say that is a good thing. That is needs to aired out in order to heal.

For me, it just drags out and intensifies the pain.

Maybe my way is wrong. Maybe it's selfish, also.

It's just my way.

Brigitte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brigitte said...

(I meant to fix my comment. Now it's all gone. Oh, well.)

A joy shared is supposed to be double the joy and a grief shared is supposed to be half the grief.

But a grief shared over and over can also be grief multiplied, it seems to me. Ruminating is not good.

But when the circle is so wide, you have do deal with everyone involved. The ripple effect just goes on and on. You need fresh strength over and over again.

I guess a wound needs air to heal (oxygen for clotting), but it does not need ripping open over and over again. It's a matter of gentleness and sensitivity.

Like we say to someone who has had a tooth extracted: baby that area, no alcohol, no smoking, chew hard food on the other side, maybe just have soft milkshake.

Josh Mueller said...

"The Shack" may be weird in its concept and some of its attempts to understand the 3 persons within the Trinity, but I found it quite helpful to bring out some hidden anger against God within me that I wasn't even aware I had. The book and its main issues seem to connect with some people but certainly not everybody.

Brigitte said...

Thanks for your comment, Josh. I'll probably get it finished.