FOR me, grief demands expression. And yet I can never fully comprehend nor succinctly communicate its mystery, which is so fitting. Still, there are myriads of caricatures of life made in the image of grief — showcased through articles, books, videos, testimonies, real lives, etc — both rousing and heartbreaking, not to mention countless shards of emotion evoked between which splinter off without recognition or acknowledgement.
Strangely, until now I have never recognised that there is a song that expresses how we experienced the ambiguous loss of losing Nathanael in 2014. The song by Roma Waterman, I Was Carried, communicates remarkably what we felt occurred to us. Not that we weren’t susceptible to the depths, to the stresses of an arduous season, nor the incomprehensibility of the lament we faced continually. I am amazed I never recognised it until now. But its lyrics are powerfully true to our experience of loss with Christ.
We were carried in the arms of a Stronger Man. Somehow in being carried over it all we experienced something majestically real and ultimately eternal even in the brokenness of it all. How can we possibly grasp such things?
God often grants the grieving their evocation of experience, commensurate with their trust; clarity comes with their preparedness to ‘go there’, which is the reward we get for having the pluck to go there. And at the very same time there’s the equal-though-opposite reality: we cannot digest the ugliness of grief. It is insoluble to life. Yet life cannot come without it.
When it comes to empathy for the grieving it’s okay to not know what to say. The courage of a simple acknowledgement to say it means a lot. Everyone ought to know that loss renders us all completely undone, no matter our part in the story. Honesty is power, because courage cuts through inauthenticity.
Grief is something I know a lot about — by experience, observation, and study — but it’s something I’m no closer to explaining. Because it doesn’t need explaining. Another thing I know, however, is that expressing our grief (and what we’re learning) helps. It heals us for the day and the time, knowing that such healing is relevant and palpable only for the moment, such as how faith works. It only works as we work it.
But I’m satisfied. (Too bad if I wasn’t!)
There’s peace in leaving a mystery as it is, whilst feeling free to give expression to it.