On Grieving vs. Functioning

“Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don’t stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there’s no reason why I should ever stop. There is something now to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape”.
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
In July of 2007, my younger brother, Christopher, committed suicide.  Although the week between his death and his funeral was a deeply emotional time, I definitely shut down much of my emotional capability in order to simply get through the tasks at hand–making phone calls, collecting and scanning family photos, receiving visitors, and on, and on, and on. The event that I dreaded the most was the viewing that was to be held the night before the funeral.  I thought I could handle anything, except for seeing my own baby brother’s body lying in a casket, and I begged God to just keep me (and the rest of my family) standing upright and able to function through it. He did keep me standing and talking, and I (obviously) made it through what I thought must surely be the toughest part of all of it.  I was so wrong.

In the nearly five years that have passed since then, grief has been a landmine-filled field that I know I have to cross at some point, yet I keep pacing at the edge, scared of what I will detonate when I walk across.  I think about it every day, some days more than others.  Some days, I feel capable of moving forward, and some days Christopher’s death seems so fresh and raw that I just ask God to let me keep my mind quiet little longer.

I’ve been researching grief books lately, specifically ones for “survivors of suicide.” I haven’t quite gotten as far as putting anything in my Amazon shopping cart and clicking “submit.”  I’m afraid of what the books will say, and what they will stir up in me.  I’m afraid to let God into that part of me.

I’ve always admired people who go through a traumatic life event with grace, dignity, and unwavering faith, with the ability to selflessly support others who find themselves in the same place later in life.  I feel like I’m still a touchy, awkward mess about it when the topic of how many siblings I have comes up.  I’m praying for the ability to continue the work of grieving for my brother, and for God to use something so awful for good in someone else’s life.  I want to reach a place where I feel like I’m grieving in a constructive way, not just a way that allows me to function on a daily basis for the rest of my life.

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2 thoughts on “On Grieving vs. Functioning

  1. Joceline-
    Tears are filling up my eyes as I read this. To be so honest and vulnerable about something so so real and heavy is really hard to do. I lost one of my best friends last year in a crazy accident and it was way harder than I ever thought it would be to trust God and let Him in to heal me. As hard as it was, I knew that in comparison to his sisters and his parents, my grief was but a shadow of the trauma that they were facing every single day. My heart goes out to you, and I just pray that God will soothe the aches and fill up the emptiness, a little at a time. It’s okay to be a touchy, awkward mess cause that’s what Jesus deals with best. :) He’ll use it. And he’ll use Christopher in more ways than you’ll ever see! Love you girl.
    Melissa

  2. Melissa–
    Thanks. I’m so sorry about your friend. No matter how close you were, it is difficult to lose someone you care about. I’ll be praying for healing for you too.
    Joceline

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