Grief and Faith
August 14, 2014 § 5 Comments
This post is about grief. The sadness, the anger, the pain, the desperate desire to rewind time, to have it be not now, but then somehow. I wanted to write a really good post about grieving. I wanted to make it smart and wise and philosophical and special, a post where people would read it and say “yeah, that’s how I feel when I grieve, that’s sadness to me.” But I’ve been trying for weeks and it’s not working, maybe because right now I find it astonishingly audacious to claim to know other people’s grief, and so instead here’s all my choppy, awful thoughts about it. Perhaps, in a way, that’s better. Because when you lose someone, when you feel like the world is dark, and full of hurt, and you can’t stop yourself from running off the cliffs when you can’t even see them coming, you don’t want perfect writing. You just want the truth. At least, I do.
Miscarriage. Even the word is ugly, with its negative prefix and thick, bumpy sounds. On Tuesday, July 22nd, my mother called me to say that my sister had lost her baby girl, only three weeks before her due date, and for a minute all I could think about was that word. It hurt too much to think about the baby, who was shortly christened Cecilia Joy. We drove out to Michigan later that week for Cece’s funeral. I have never admired my brother-in-law more than when he stood up at his daughter’s funeral and gave his tribute to her and to Jesus. It suddenly occurs to me that admire is such an impersonal word. I loved him so much for what he said and did. How he told us Cecilia’s name means Blind Joy and how her first sight was that of heaven. How he carried her doll-like little casket from the back to the front of the church, and I knew I’d never seen a more intimate Via Crucis. I sat next to my sister in that first pew and watched sorrow pierce her heart like a sword. This, then, is the bottom line of faith and suffering: to endure it becoming real right in front of your eyes. To see a picture of a mother cradling her child’s body and think: there it is, that’s what Michaelangelo carved, that’s a mater dolorosa. It is true. It happened and it’s happening, and it will happen again. This is why I attend Stations of the Cross during Lent, and meditate on the death of Christ, and pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. Because when they become real in your own life, when you experience your own sorrowful mystery, when you are a weeping woman on the way of the cross, you know the end of the story. Christ is present and He brings with Him life, not death. The grave is no bar to hope.