The daughter of our friends died in an accident on Sunday. I still cannot say that she is dead. Only that she died, which is different. If she died, that is an event, and events end. If she died, well, that is something that happened that is awful. I can't say she is dead because that is not an event. That is a state of being, and I can't wrap my mind around that. I can understand on some level that I won't see her again. I can't go farther to an idea that she no longer lives.
I feel stupid. I know the truth! Why can't I stop going over it and over it? I feel so angry that this has happened. I'm bitter that my friends have to go through this horror. My mind has no control over how quickly I grasp the reality.
The Psalm for this week in my devotional book includes these words:
Psalm 73: 21, 22
When my soul was embittered,
When I was pricked in heart,
I was stupid and ignorant;
I was like a brute beast toward you.
This describes how I feel, except the "pricked in heart" is pretty weak. I don't mean this in an ashamed sense. This is how all of us feel in intense and sudden grief. Bitterness. Broken heart. Unable to think or reason or understand. Like a brute beast acting from the animal parts of our brains. Because that is how we are made, to revert back to our instinctive selves when events or trauma takes away our ability to function.
But the Psalm goes on:
Nevertheless I am continually with you;
You hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me with honor. (v 23-24)
I find this comforting somehow, that the Psalmist affirms that even when we cannot cope, when we are full of bitterness and pain, we are still with God and are received with honor. We may not feel the truth of this. We may experience pain so deep that even the sense of God's presence is beyond our ability to recognize. But it is there. We are received with honor. We are held in our grief with an acceptance of the reality that it is accompanied with bitterness and raw emotion and inability to comprehend or understand or accept.
It is only in the knowledge of this truth...that we are accepted, loved, and yes, honored, as we struggle with the truth of this loss and with all of the accompanying emotions...that I am able to also embrace the following verses:
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
May God have mercy on us, and especially on the family of this young woman, as we move into our grieving.