This is what I wrote:I remember during my clinical pastoral education studies watching a short film about a man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I remember he had a wife and some teenaged children. In the face of his certain death he became fanatical about his belief in the afterlife and insisted that his family not be sad because he wasn’t really dying but transferring to a better place. They weren’t allowed to be sad or cry, even after he died. He insisted. We were shown the film as students because it was obvious the man was coping with his suffering by adopting a posture of denial with belief for its engine. It was sad to watch him and his family unwilling or unable to process their grief. Tragic.
I have thought about this all morning because grief is still very acute in our house.
Anyone who has lost a child, and ours was 18 years old, knows that this grief will never be entirely over. I did not understand this about people previously. There is an elderly couple in our congregations whose son dropped dead in gymn class at the school where the father was school principal. He was the couple’s only son (there are two daughters). This must be how many decades ago now? When all the special days come and anniversaries of this and that everything is as raw as ever. Before it happened to us I would watch this from the outside and wonder why they are still not over this. Why the hugging and crying with other members in similar situations? I truly thought that this should be over by now.
But when someone is missing every Christmas, Easter, Birthday, death anniversary, Mother’s day, etc. they are still missing again and again, each time. The only thing is to be with people and get some distraction and companionship.
Our dead have been burned into our heart and brain and body. Our feelings for them, the things they said and did, the cars they drove, the clothes they wore, the pleasures and pains they had, the hugs they gave, the way they smelled… It is wired into us now, somewhere in the neurons. It does not go away. It is part of us, and the pain will be there.
It’s good to talk it out and cry it out, but it can’t be programmed.
And at the time of death and funeral, it may not at all be the right time. Then we need every bit of strength we can muster. I refused to cry then because crying gives me headaches and a headache puts me into bed and I could not afford to be in bed. Plus, there were hundreds of mourners, many young and inexperienced people and you end up being there for them. There was no time for grieving then. And every bit of spare energy was called upon for other things.
People looked at this and thought it was unnatural. They wanted to talk me through Kuebler-Ross. Good grief! We have all heard this a thousand times.
When the pastor came over, we just did a liturgy from the hymn book, the Apostle’s creed, the Lord’s prayer. What a relief to just fall back on that. What a gift. That’s all that was needed. “The Lord be with you.” “And also with you.” Amen.
Please, don’t make me cry.
But on Monday, I cried. It was a really good cry. I was with a women I did not know well, but she also lost a child and we walked along the North Saskatchewan river and sat on a bench in the sunlight and looked at downtown Edmonton. And we shared our difficulties and I cried. There was a time and a place and person. And this also was a gift. It could not be planned.
Others benefit from other things. I am just telling how it goes for me.
We are not really discussing the belief in the afterlife and resurrection here, though my guess is that to the blogowner it is simply a myth. But since he likely does not believe in the afterlife and even though he calls himself a pastor, he needs to have some kind of view on the subject. And this is what comes out.
And what is the pastor's purpose? To facilitate the grieving I don't need him. To tell my psychological platitudes I don't need him.
Just wanted to hang on to this item.