It’s definitely not that cut and dry- the grieving process isn’t something that goes from one stage to the next- it is a spiral you go up and down, repeating the various stages throughout days, weeks, months, and years. I despise the spiral.
At the tomb of Lazarus are the famous two words, “Jesus wept.”
But Tim Keller points out something that is left out of most translations- Jesus also “trembled with rage.”
So, both of these, I believe, are a natural and even good response to death.
Who was Jesus angry with?
Though there are easily people I could direct my anger towards- I think Jesus was angry at death itself…an intruder to the plan. Oh, but modern psych tells me death is a natural part of the life cycle. Then why does it feel so unnatural? Why then, does every cell in your body scream that this is wrong- a mistake- cannot and should not be? Even if Dan had died at 85, I don’t think I’d see our separation as natural. A friend of ours wrote that once he had his daughters, he couldn’t imagine that one lifetime was enough to spend with them, and he had to investigate the possibility of an eternal life.
I sat in the lobby after Lisa came to pick Audrey up for the play group. I stared out the windows at the gray sky and the blowing tree branches. It looks particularly harsh and uninviting today out there- even though the landscape I see has been manicured and tamed by humans. I watched the old people that live in our building coming out of the elevator- heading out the door. They have lived a long life. Then I envisioned Dan coming towards the doors, carrying our bags of groceries and dragging his feet the way he did. I see him smiling at me. I miss him with a holy ache.
Then right in the middle of that longing and sorrow- there it is-
I think I've listened to the same Keller sermon recently. I agree… death is not natural. It is an intruder.
I remember sitting in the pews at the wake and at the memorial service thinking, "This is wrong…something is wrong. This isn't how it was meant to be."
I also listened to the sermon about Jesus snorting with rage at death.
I'm angry, too
A former (now deceased) religious studies professor at Brown U, where I worked for many years, Giles Milhaven (himself a Jesuit priest who left the order to marry an ex-nun), wrote a book and taught a course that were both called "Good Anger." As a theologian, he struggled to reconcile raw human anger with scripture and Jesus's teachings. The title of his book tells you where his studies led him. I think we all need to own and respect our Good Anger. You have every reason to be angry; you have been robbed, senselessly. Keep on letting yourself feel all those feelings as you grieve.