In the beginning, my grief was pure- there was room for nothing else.
As I navigate this brutal path, I find that it is not barren, but fertile with many things- both good or evil.
Bitterness– I’ve written before of Tim Keller saying grind hope into your grief, and you’ll become wise. The alternative really is bitterness- and a much more pervasive breed than I’m accustomed to- I can tell that much already. It’s one that hijacks your thoughts and perception until everything and everyone is a reason to be bitter, sarcastic, envious. It is, in a way, wisdom misdirected. Because my perception is correct- those people really don’t know how good they have it; that woman is complaining about being pregnant? Children are a blessing and she wanted them so please don’t let me hear you complain you’re so sick of being pregnant even if it’s true; and Christians- you’re asking me for specific prayer requests- it is too late for those- why would God help me find my lost keys but let my husband drown?
Hidden in the quiet rage of bitterness is profound wisdom and perception not given to those who are not grieving. It must be protected from the rage – from this propensity to let everyone know how much this sucks and how much they don’t get it or how much they lack understanding. This understanding, should, instead by portioned out as a gift when necessary…for building up others, not presenting my own case.
Identity- I lost a huge part of my identity, but it can not be found in Audrey alone- as a mother. I have to be more than that- more than what I do. That is too much pressure for her and I do not want to either 1) smother her or 2) force her to grow up too fast and be my “friend.”
Self-pity- I did not see this quality rear its head until very recently- until now, it didn’t feel as though I could pity myself- I was drenched in sorrow, and appropriately so. But these days, I strongly resist people thinking I’m “better.” And it’s true- I’m not, nor will I ever be- in those terms though my therapist does talk about grief “recovery.” I guess it’s similar to the way once you’re an alcoholic you always are- you’re just in a constant state of recovery- you’re sober for this many years.
But what I sense is that it is possible to feel pity for myself now. And from that pity stems the bitterness and anger. So, there is room for acknowledgment of the tragedy, and there is room for “sipping” from the cup of grief, as Catherine Marshall describes it, but there is no room for self-pity. To dwell there, I can see already, will be dangerous and costly.