Of the 18,693 days I have been alive, there must have been several hundred that I could chalk up as resolute failures. Maybe a thousand or more. But there have been periods – series’ of days – of my life when failure, as a contrast, would have been ten times brighter to what I was actually experiencing.
Grief that is inconsolable, as far as a life experience is concerned, is inestimable. In so many ways. Not that I think I agree the same as you do, but I do believe that there are potential circumstances in all our lives that bring us to the absolute end of ourselves.
Within this kind of grief that casts what was our lives into oblivion, there is an ache so ugly, a hole seemingly so daemonic, we may find it so hard to believe that God could allow this kind of pain.
The pain is unconscionable. It is so searing that it completely malforms our existence. It throbs and it threatens. Ever beckoning at our door, it cowers and bustles through the moment we give anxiety a foothold. It comes through in depression that says, ‘I cannot do this!’
Having encountered this pain known as grief we hardly reckon it could be possible. It swarms, then overwhelms. It tracks you and ambushes you intuiting trauma.
And still there is the ugly ache that won’t go away.
How many days go past and the grief refuses to be reconciled. If we have enough strength to be courageously weak – the gentle strength of humility that cannot be faked – we bear them all for a purpose. That purpose is inanely enigmatic. To a creature crying out for justice it makes absolutely no sense. It’s only when we choose to throw justice away that we can make instantaneous sense of it.
That ache that won’t go away insists on commanding our attention. It pummels and breaks us. And still we wake the following day for another foray on life. Perhaps we are surprised when a comparatively easy day comes; where energy and hope seem restored. Then, the very next day we are smashed up on the rocks again. And yet that dull ugly ache remains in the cavernous region of our soul.
Grief changes us. It runs over us like a tsunami, without apparent warning, even if we were warned, and it stays far too long, never returning us to where we have been.
Little wonder that people resent the grief in the phenomenon of loss.
Learning to reconcile what has been taken away and may never be returned to us, and may continue to run malformed, is still the option at hand. When we have the option of healing what is unsatisfactory or of leaving what is unfathomable there, we choose the former. We cut our losses. We settle our debts and agree to get out of the town of mental chaos.
Such as it is the ugly ache that won’t go away. It insists on having its way. And though we fight it, it remains steadily stubborn until our wisdom kicks in: this cannot be beaten, and it can only be accepted. Grief is a crude and cruel negotiator.
The ugly ache that won’t go away is the evidence of grief we need to experience.
It is good for us to understand the nature of life that occurs in so many lives. It is a blessing to know the truth, that we don’t have anywhere near as much control over life as we would like to think we have.
And strangely, that breeds an unconquerable hope within us; a joy that cannot be quenched; a peace that transcends our understanding.
Grief opens up our thinking about life. It challenges us beyond what we comfortably bear.
Grief forces us to change, and when we change, we’re fortified by hope.
Steve Wickham is a writer and pastor holds degrees in Science, Divinity, and Counselling.