MAKING SENSE OF MY GRIEF: Death sucks!

Friday night was our pizza and movie night. The night before you died we had pizza and watched the old movie of Forrest Gump which we both loved. Forrest often quoted his mother. “Mama said, life is like a box of chocolates ‒ you never know what you’re going to get.” Indeed, Forrest, I did not know what I was going to get.

It is Friday night again. I walked aimlessly through our local grocery store. Since your death, I mostly feel nausea. Yeah, the counsellor in me knows that is how shock shows up. Definitely not able to stomach pizza tonight. How intertwined did our tastes and habits become in 37 years? No need to put a red pepper for you in the trolley. No cheese for pizza. I walked past your All-Bran, Muesli and favourite peppermint chocolate. No biscuits and Marmite for a late-night snack. Only the strawberry yoghurt looked appealing. I returned home with yoghurt, milk and cat food.

Today I had to complete your death-papers. The courier was fetching these at 14.00. I pulled open a drawer to search for a document. A box of smarties stared at me. Danica and Githa loved opening that drawer of your desk because there was always something to chew on. How do I chew on your death? Find ways to swallow it when I just want to spit it out?

Danica and I talked over the phone about what we will miss of not having you around. You offered such wise counsel on her research proposal, being a scientist and researcher yourself. The 21st of June is Fathers’ Day and the 25th of June would have been our 37th marriage anniversary. She sighed and said: “Death sucks.”

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn.” My Love, you often mourned the loss of feeling alive while you were still breathing. Henry Nouwen said: “Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to a place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.”

You never flew from your suffering. You braved it out, willing to learn from it and become a more compassionate healer for others. You lived with the suffering and mourning of being a wounded healer. When we fell in love, our favourite song of the King Singers was: “You are the new day.” The last verse says: “One more day when time is running out for everyone, like a breath I knew would come, I reach for the new day.” You are living your new day. It was prophetically announced in August 2018 already by your accommodation in Rome when you went on your pilgrimage to Assisi. It was called: “New day – bed and breakfast.”

Tonight, I agree. Death sucks. I will Hold onto Him as I reach for my new day on earth. Perhaps your death was a re-birth for both of us: for you a birthing into eternity and for me a birthing into a new season after journeying with depression for 35 years. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. God will encourage others who journey with depression and the threat of self-death, just as He encouraged us.

Annette de la Porte (author of Hold onto Him).

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