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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

When Loss Opens Eternity’s Doors Through Grief

Stories were the theme of my day recently.  Narratives of life… of family, distant and imminent, of the weariness of time, of pain and loss, through death and separation… but also of reconnection, of hope for a future beyond loss, of achievement underpinned by purpose.
We all have stories, and every story is interesting.  Ann Oakley (nee Hawke), a beautiful indigenous person, grew up completely separated from her family — from her mother and siblings — and was ‘loved’ by countless foster families, many of whom were well intentioned but woefully ill-equipped to love a child with a torn identity.  After two decades and more of running, fighting, and grieving a world of hurt, it was the elders within her indigenous community who took her as a broken human being and counselled her in forgiveness, in reconciling more loss than most of us could understand.
Then there’s the story of Ray Palmer.  He and his wife received a knock at the door by uniformed men in 2010 that shattered their lives.  Their son was serving in Afghanistan.  He’d been killed in a helicopter tragedy.  As Ray shared his story, his relived grief as fresh in some ways as the day he first heard the news, I realised afresh, their son will never return to them.  There is something irrefutably final in loss; it makes sure grief forces its ways through the barred doors of our emotional citadel.
I don’t want to over-spiritualise death, but I’m afraid I cannot help it.  Death is spiritual.  Death takes us into another world.
Of recent I’ve been playing the haunting 1999 track, Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? By Moby.  There is something utterly life-giving, in the eventualities of experience, in willingly going to the depths of agony.  Our soul hears the heartache in songs that repeal joy for a wailing sorrow.  We know life is like that.  Life crushes every one of us.  Within every one of our stories is an eternity of sorrow.  And yet that’s exactly what deepens us in life.  It’s precisely what makes us humans of substance.
Grief does something to me as I connect with it.  Being in relationship with it, having recovered from the unrivalled soul-lonely pain of loss, I have found is a gift — eternity’s door is then ever ajar for reminiscences that requite gratitude.
We’re enlarged by grief in the longer run, because that’s what eternity does to us when she touches us.
My grief is treasured in the loss of a once-cherished marriage and in the loss of a son who will never return to us.
It is only my faith in God that can explain how life-shattering sorrow is turned to a deep abiding joy.
Loss opens eternity’s doors to us in our grief.
It’s a gift we never realise at the time; a compensation
experienced later.
Photo: an enduring image of the moment, 11pm 30 October, 2014, I met my deceased son.

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