I have been grieving for a bit over five years.
A friend suffered a loss and I feared something similar might happen to me. Anxiety gripped me and I had to understand it.
On long walks I faced my fears and examined them. I excavated and dug to the bottom, and found I was afraid of what I would lose. I am privileged, with many good things in my life, and the price of this is anxiety.
Paul’s paradoxes shape my thought: God wins by losing; slavery is freedom; death leads to life; the cross brings resurrection; weakness is power; down is up.
I came to see that to get free from the fear of what I would lose, I needed to grieve the loss of everything dear to me. And so, I did, over many months.
I grieved the loss of my daughter and sons, my partner in marriage, the parents I love, my health and even life, my friends, my status in the guild, my writing projects, my house, my privileged position, the respect of my colleagues.
I visited every part of my life with the grief of its loss.
And a miracle surprised me. Everything I put on a cross was enfolded in resurrection. What I lamented became a wellspring of life. Each thing I gave up I received back as a gift. Wherever I mourned was a site of celebration.
I welcomed grief as a friend, and this is the happiest season of my life.
I learned the wisdom that “a sad face is good for the heart.” I now see that “it is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” (Eccl 7:2-3).
I do not know what will happen, but I have no illusions. I was raised in a culture that creates false promises, and its empty guarantees have wounded me. I am skeptical of its sentimentality.
It avoids grief because grief threatens the god it needs to imagine in order to hold to illusions of safety.
Better to face reality as it is than to search for hope that is hollow.
Grief has brought me many gifts, and grief awaits.