A good deal of a minister’s time is spent with the bereaved, time during which I have often felt helpless, useless, even fraudulent. Here is a reflection/meditation on my almost twenty-five-years’ experience of grief - and of grieving.
Grief that to cure must first poison.
Psalm 22:1, not 22:24, grief,
God deaf to my cry and “Why?” grief.
Holy Saturday, the longest day, grief,
trapped between Friday eve and Sunday dawn.
Grief in three terrible tenses:
a past like a sea to a thirsty shipwreck,
fathomless depths of memories,
irresistibly enticing, retchingly dehydrating;
a present like a shroud-black hole,
the soul’s inescapable singularity;
and a future like - what future?
Grief that practice makes harder, not easier.
Grief that scorns the clichÃ©s of consolation.
Grief that mocks the psychobabble of “stages”.
Grief that is tongue-tied,
but if it could speak,
it would scream obscenities.
Grief that only poets plumb -
Hopkins’ “cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man fathomed”;
Jennings’ “Ice in the blood, the wrestle in the night”;
Auden’s “I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”
The landscape of grief is the wilderness
where the Spirit drives us;
we must endure its forty days of famine,
resisting the temptation of crumbs of comfort,
and wait without expectation of ministering angels.