MAKING SENSE OF MY GRIEF: Waging war with death

I want to run into the arena with a big gladiator sword and take on this beast of death. Grab it by its horns in a death-defying leap like Wonder Woman and with a yell of triumph, cut off its head. I want to bargain with death to bring you back NOW. I want another chance to reason with you to live. Another attempt to alleviate your pain and suffering. Another option than losing you forever.

I went away to the sea for two weeks. Just me, God, and my memories of you. Though your ability to connect with me got as thin as Melba toast, it never diminished my love for you. I thought it did. Mistakenly so. The bereavement counsellor spoke with a quiet air of peace that I could not identify with. He asked simple and important questions:

  1. Are you eating? (I am having a shake for breakfast because I am shaken, soup for lunch. Otherwise I am mostly nauseous from the shock.)
  2. Are you sleeping? (With the aid of a sleeping tablet, yes. I learnt years ago that you cannot cry and sleep at the same time.)
  3. Are you getting any exercise? (Apart from my thoughts racing all over the show? I go for a walk for 30 minutes a day – when I do it vigorously, it is a good outlet for the anger that rages in me.)
  4. Are you following any routine or finding new rituals in your day? (I make sure that I drink two litres of water a day to replace all the tears I cry; I force myself to lie down for an hour after lunch even if I am not sleeping – mourning is a tiring job; I journal every day on the specific topic of a new feeling that presents itself; for example, today’s word was feeling cheated. I light candles every day. There is comfort in the sound of the stroke of the match, the gentle light of the candle flame.)

I consulted him about my mourning process after lecturing him first on the fact that I have already been mourning my husband’s absence while he was still breathing. The counsellor explained that the composition of our tears differs depending on the reason for crying. Tearing up while you cut onions apparently does not count for much. When we mourn, the composition of our tears is different. They contain toxins. As you cry, you release those toxins from your body. If you hold back or suppress your tears, the toxins build up in your body and can make you sick. I will need to buy a new box of tissues by Monday – no danger of toxins accumulating in my body.

Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall DOUBTLESS come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Papa God, I thank you that all these years of pain, living with a chronic illness, will not be in vain. Like the woman with the issue of blood who could not be healed by anyone, I will grab onto your garment Jesus! I will hold onto You as I await the harvest of joy, new revelation and insight of what you are teaching me in my process of mourning. Shape me, mould me: You are the Potter, I am the clay. 

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