A RELUCTANT GRIEVER
by Virgil Fry
I write these words from the raw side of fresh grief. Less than two months ago Caryl, my beloved wife of 33 years, died. A tenacious, vibrant, faithful woman, she finally succumbed to death after two hard years of declining health, and 50 years of being a Type 1 diabetic. Her battle has ended. But for me, the battle has not ended — it’s only beginning. Many a kindhearted person has tried to console me with the reality that she’s now better off, her suffering is ended, and she’s in a much better place.
The other side of the coin that isn’t acknowledged is this: I’m still here. My heart is broken. The security of a long and stable marriage is shattered. I’m busy trying to get through the fog of grief while finishing up legal papers and insurance forms. I f eel like I’m slogging through molasses. My life is forever altered, and I miss her. No amount of joy over Caryl’s betterment removes that cold reality.
Someone I know whose husband died objects when others refer to his death as loss, as in “you’ve lost your husband.” She likes to say that he isn’t lost, but found by God. But the truth is, it’s not his loss: it’s hers. And that kind of deeply significant relationship loss is excruciatingly painful.
Grieving is a process, an energy-draining task. Those of us in the faith community should particularly know this, for our God is often presented as sorrowful, upset, dismayed, grieving. So let us allow grievers to grieve, rather than trying to hurry them through their unfolding journey of sorrow. Call out the name of the one who died. Tell of special remembrances, of what you miss about that person. Or just allow the griever to tell, and often retell, stories that bring smiles and tears. A simple “I’m with you in prayer and spirit” is infinitely more refreshing to a lonely griever than “Aren’t you glad she’s in a better place.”
For now, I just grieve. In my head I know that such intense grief indicates how blessed I was to have had such a loving life-partner. In time, with God’s promised faithful presence, I will rejoice in Caryl’s “graduation to heaven.” But for now . . . I grieve.
Copyright 2008 by Virgil Fry and reprinted by permission.
Dr.Virgil Fry. Virgil is the Executive Director of the Lifeline Chaplaincy and Compassionate Touch ministries in the world-renowned Houston (Texas) Medical Center and now also in.
To read an interview with Virgil by the Christian Chronicle, click here or go to http://www.christianchronicle.org/article541~Dialogue:_A_conversation_with_Virgil_Fry