It’s so difficult to comfort anyone who is grieving because the feeling of loss is inconsolable. Loss itself is a complex thing to define, mostly because it is wrapped up in our idea of control, believing we own or have power over things and people and believing they are ours and cannot be taken from us; yet, we also, continually fear loss of people or things, afraid they will be taken from us.
When we lose someone close to us, either to death or other circumstances, which may as well be death, if we’re no longer close, as current studies have shown, when we’ve lost touch with a loved one to death, we feel the same type of pain and grieve the same way as we do when losing touch with a loved one whom is still living, regardless of the type of relationship, whether a once close friend, a spouse, through divorce or a breakup with a lover. In each instance, the bottom line is extreme disappointment stemming from something beyond our control. We can debate the circumstances of an event and whether we could have prevented it; if it resulted in someone’s death, yet, it still evented; it happened and, to our surprise or not. We must live without; the loss felt, making hearts heavy with the strain in grieving, wrestling with abandonment, desertion, emptiness and how to cope with this part of the human condition which is faced with knowing, at any time, anything can slip through our hands because nothing is in our hands.
We are used to choosing our struggle, at least we are used to thinking we can choose to struggle or not; breaking ties with people or not, picking our battles; letting our pride rule the day, which often has consequences we had not expected or, did expect and are prepared to live with. In the case of a death, it is made plain, our lack of control over, not only the death, but the grieving process and how we deal with it and most, extend more latitude to those grieving due to the loss of a loved one by death, much more than they tolerate someone grieving over a living soul, the breaking up of two close individuals deciding to separate; though in those cases, the separation can be just as quick and severe, at least for one of them, the one who didn’t decide to separate but whose life was upended by the decision of the other to sever the relationship, with or without warning, just as when someone is terminally ill, the warning makes it none-the-less painful.
Grief itself is, our losing it. Delving into the question of what we’ve lost is hard work, requiring a separate in depth examination, beyond the limits of this post. We can acknowledge at the very least, we’ve lost any joy associated with the person we no longer are associated with. We can’t share ours or in theirs. Our memories are tricky, in the sense, when someone is “taken” from us, we tend to elevate them to a glorified status and unrealistic height for, so many reasons I’m unable to expand too much on them here due to the compounded nature of the topic so, I will reserve this for a later post other than this, one reason we perceive our lost loved ones in a higher light than we may have when we were close to them is due to our coping with the loss, with the missing them and in turn, often missing the point, of the loss.
Death is tragic in most of our eyes. We see it as needless in most cases and as a species, do everything in our power to be unyielding to it, working as hard as possible to prevent or at the very least, stave off the inevitable. This, we see in the advances of technology and the more we learn, the more our educated minds tell us we can learn to control our lives by extending them unto eternity. We are continually learning about our bodies etc. to control disease and any other thing that may kill us, we want to put death off, forever. We are working to engineer our genes, our limbs etc., so we can achieve a constant state of renewal, a perpetuation of our existence. To accomplish this, we need to eradicate what can terminate us, all the things which stress us to the point of disease, those things which weaken us to the point, we are vulnerable to a stronger foe, like autoimmune diseases, cancer, viruses, etc., We need to make ourselves safe from external and internal sources of destruction.
Though impossible for us, we want to avoid pain and suffering. The suffering from grief comes from the hurt; the frustration and anger of not being able to keep life going. In death, we are powerless to hold onto life or, to keep it with us. This is the cornerstone of grief, the frustration and sorrow in our realizing we have no control over anything alive and our inability to create or sustain life and knowing, life has control over us. This brings us to the crux of the matter of death and why, grief might be the best thing for us and a precursor to the very thing we seek… a life sustained in everlasting peace.
Though he is referring to adultery, this excerpt from Alain De Botton’s, The Course of Love gives a scenario for the why we must suffer in this thing called life (what we know to be our lives and how we live them), in order to gain faith:
“Never having been betrayed sets up poor preconditions for remaining faithful. Evolving into genuinely more loyal people requires us to suffer through some properly innoculative episodes, in which we feel for a time limitlessly panicked, violated and on the edge of collapse. Only then can the injunction not to betray our spouses evolve from a bland bromide into a permanently vivid moral imperative.”
There are several life lessons from betrayal, which is what we feel deeply in our suffering the loss of a loved one and in grieving the loss of someone once near to us. We feel betrayed by our idea of being in control. Our deepest struggles are those of not being able to manipulate our world; by world, I mean both our physical and emotional environments and ours personally, that is, our person and other persons, as well as, external matter and internal matters; these matter to our striving. By striving, I mean our struggles in living, not our existence alone; but us alone, controlling our existence, which is nonsense. This, is why we have strife. We are not capable of controlling our existence, nor our exits, but desire to do so. We blame ourselves or others when things do not go according to our desires. Blaming or for that matter, claiming control is more of the betrayal cycle of thinking, what we know as guilt.
Forced to face death and loss through grief is the precondition, aka, the human condition, which is suffrage, not having a vote or choice in the condition; having no voice or say in what happens. It is grappling with the concept of living like we do have a voice, because we do! We have many voices in our heads telling us what to do or what we want to do or what others should do or what we want others to do and what we want to happen. We can argue over how things unfold but at the end of the day, when all is dark, there is no light, we die.
We can fight against it, but are powerless to stop it, whether we want to or not, both for ourselves or our loved ones. So, we feel betrayed and ask why, why such a tragedy must take place and what can we do to end the madness we feel when it occurs, when we suffer loss.
It’s in this betrayal we discover we’ve lost our cover, exposed, it is revealed to us; we are not in charge and cannot control what occurs in our living nor circumstances of our dying. Now, the question becomes who is in charge of this awful mess, why are we born into it and forced to go through it?
Referring to the previously mentioned excerpt by Alain de Botton, brought to the edge of collapse, and all the panic and violation experienced in getting there, is nothing more than feelings of frustration, hostility, desperation, vulnerability, shame, despair and not in control, which is maddening. We seek to feel comfort and want a sense of stability to feel comforted. Death is hard to face because we must see its face which leads to nothing. Facing the prospect of nothing can be an ordeal because we want to find meaning in our existence. Seeing no purpose in the lifelong struggle to survive leaves us feeling worthless and in despair.
Through our suffering this fight with wanting to find our worth and not understanding the purpose of going through the pain in life is how we can know the fight, which we cannot withstand nor escape and which leads us to death is for the good of grief. A part of grieving is the bitterness we feel not wanting to accept our role in life, which is the living it; like it or not. We can recognize its ups and downs, times of elation and times of sorrow. The bitter sorrow, that which we cannot avoid, teaches us about the mercy in death. It’s hard to see unless we can see how we fight to take control. Knowing we can’t avoid death any more than we could avoid being born is knowing, it is not in our hands to decide and, what a mercy it is we’ve been created in this form; suffering cannot last, only to the end, it teaches us how merciful it is, that it does end; thus, freeing us from the struggle in believing we can control our destiny and leaves an example of mercy to our loved ones, so we can all understand the order of things and, that we cannot order things; rather, we are following the order, not out of regard, consideration or obedience, but by design, designated order.
It’s not hard to imagine being unappreciated, we’ve all experienced this, believing we are or must be more valuable than someone gives us credit for whether it be family, friend, boss, customer etc. or, maybe we don’t know our value and rely on others to appreciate us to place a value on our life. This, however is to believe we can do something to be of value, what we believe to be within our control or, what we do which affects what or whom is around us. Seeing and being touched by these events adds to our struggle to be in control. What we observe others doing often, distorts our view of what we are capable of or how we feel we should be capable of. One action besets another as much as, one ushers in the other. This becomes our struggle, from perceptions of how things seem and it is the substrate, how porous we are, which guides interpretation and application as to what truths, facts and ideas from these experiences trickle off or seep in and how much or how little faith is taken from loss.
Imagine how unappreciated God must feel, knowing we loathe, with all our being, the idea of anyone but us being in control of us. But, you might say, why should he, if he created us this way? For God to create anything, he must think it through and as we day dream or think through our ideas, we visualize the outcome. The difference is he can follow through in creating exactly what he wants. We want and, are caught up in the being maddened, by our not being able to create exactly what we want; don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a long way, baby! The difference is, we visualize based on a working model, from what is already in existence; but God brings all things into existence, in our case, the world is our playground. God brought it into existence so we could play at being creators. We mock him by our thinking we can be him, thinking we are able to create from scratch… there is nothing new under the sun. Our ideas have their origins in all the examples found in and around us, we copy, thinking they are original, but God has been there done that, being the original, of any kind.
God creates all that is made through Jesus Christ. Jesus, like us, takes orders from God, to create what God decides ought to be. Through Christ, angels, then demons were created. In Lucifer, Gods most superior angel creation, was implanted a trait to betray, to be a traitor to God, transformed by falling into trap God set to bind him.
God knows how it feels to be betrayed because he created the characteristic. Satan suffers as an eternal being, with a life of struggle in the belief, he can create from scratch. He was made responsible of the world, having been given dominion over it… so, if you think Trump is a bad leader, Satan trumps, Trump.
Trump is criticized for his less than subtle delivery. Satans delivery is an example of subtly. What Satan delivers is the lie all believe, without even being aware we are following his lead. The lie is we are in control or, can be. We struggle, within and without, against the tide as it comes in, regardless, it comes in and takes us out with it. We are brought into this world by a force of nature and die out by that same nature. The lie inherent in man is that we can create and sustain life. We believe this because Satan does, yet both he and us, have been given what we know by a God whom has seen the end of it. Just because it is beyond our current vision, what we do see isn’t and that is, the end to life as we know it.
Our death means the end of our struggle against the tide; but it also means we can see the mercy when the struggle ends. How much more compassion can we learn for Satan? His struggle doesn’t end there. How much more appreciation can we learn for God, a creator whom has our backs by breaking them to the point of death to show us his mercy in the creation of this grieving process; so, we can learn, not to grieve but to have faith and accept what is given us by being excepted from an eternal life of struggle.
Good grief, yes! Because grief’s conviction of unbelief emboldens hope by faith’s revelation, only nothing is lost and there is, beyond belief.