This isn’t what I planned to write.
I’ve got an unpublished book (or a BUNCH of word documents that amount to about 60,000 words, book sounds more dignified). An entire chapter is about grief and transitions. I liken grief to fertilizer for the soul and had planned to share an excerpt today.
But I cannot shake the feeling THIS post is what I am to share today. I’ve tried to ignore it because it would be easier to cut and paste, truth be told. Emily Freeman says to “Listen to your tears,” so here we are.
Suffering and sorrow aren’t games. Games have clear rules and times allotted and even rankings (if you’re talking sports).
When it comes to suffering, one of the cardinal rules drilled into us as counseling students was suffering is in the eye of the beholder. If someone is brutally attacked and yet they get over it quickly, truly get over it, believe them. If another person is “barely attacked” yet devastated by it, believe them.
Don’t try to rank. Don’t say X > Y. Suffering is not a math equation, it is an experience.
And this is why I’m a bit reluctant to write today, because what I consider to be suffering might appear silly to you. This week at Velvet Ashes some obvious suffering has been shared and it’s tempting to compare what I’m going to share to what has been shared and down play it.
But suffering is suffering. Laura’s suffering is real. So is Tanya’s. And though mine might look shallow on the surface, mine is different and real too.
I won’t get to watch the Broncos win a Super Bowl with my dad. The Broncos have been to seven Super Bowls – five while I was in the U.S. and two when I lived in Asia. We lost five times and won twice.
I know and understand living overseas came with a call and a cost. Many costs really (and many blessings). This is one of them.
So, when the Broncos win their next Super Bowl, and they will!, it will be bittersweet for me. I will be excited and happy and rejoice. But I will also think of the last Super Bowl they were in and how it found me sitting by my dad’s hospital bed as he faded, not really able to enjoy the game. How the food he ate, prepared by my sister, was the last food he ever truly ate (pulled pork and popcorn). How during the half time we turned the TV off to begin the goodbye process for his life and to bless and thank him for the man he was.
And how one of the secret dreams of my heart will never be.
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Laura Connell says
Your post made me cry! I appreciate the reminder that we can’t rank suffering or how people feel. Everybody reacts, grieves and recovers differently.
Wow, Laura, you are impressive :) thanks for popping over so quickly and for being a model of a gracious hostess!
Thank you for sharing this sorrow (it’s not silly!), and for writing how “suffering is in the eye of the beholder.” It was easy this week, as I read about true and big sufferings, to think that because I’ve never experienced tragedies to that extent, that my sorrows aren’t as valid or real. I want to remember these “rules” of sufferings as I think of my own and also walk through different valleys with others.
Amanda, I think this desire to be “excellent” (and part of the way we reflect God) has gotten so twisted in our thinking to become a ranking system. BIG FAT SIGH. Your valleys are real :) and more than that … VALID! Your comment made me smile. Thanks Amanda!
Amy, thank you for sharing your heart today. “Suffering is not a math equation; it is an experience.” So incredibly true. And something, I think, a lot of us tend to forget at times.
I think this idea of “equation” and “ranking” is one of the most evil ways the enemy of our souls plays with our heads and hearts :(!!!!
Mark Allman says
I think we are wrong if we think that it is right to assign to someone what is important to them. If I told what things in my life meant the most to me I’m sure people would laugh or worse. No two people are alike and the life that they have woven takes them along different paths and with different people. Those paths and those people in a large degree influence what means the most to someone.
We should honor that which someone is willing to share with us that is meaningful in their lives as if it was meaningful to us because it should be. What those we love care about we should care about.
Danielle Wheeler says
Again with the big lump in my throat!! I wanted the Broncos to win so badly for you and your dad. I love the bond that you and your dad shared over the Broncos. Grieving the loss of a dream is sorrow in deed.
I understand where you’re coming from. Sometimes the hardest grief is in the smallest things. Hugs to you!
Tanya Marlow says
I have all the feelings. I was reading your post and cheering with you, saying YES – this – suffering is in the eye of the beholder. This is so important.
And then I came to this sentence:
I won’t get to watch the Broncos win a Super Bowl with my dad
And I just cried.
I stopped and cried for two minutes.
This is the thing about grief, it gets you just when you’re not looking. This is suffering. This is a whole shed load of ‘this is not fair’ in that one little sentence. It’s not fair. It sucks big time. I ache with you and I’m crying with you, friend.
Yeah, I cried, too. That’s not a small loss. I’m so very sorry.