“A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ” – from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck, 1961
I wonder what Steinbeck would think today about all the sad souls hidden away in their homes, locked away from others in nursing homes, out of work because their job just wasn’t deemed as important as Hollywood. Sad souls living in fear.
If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face and wear a smile,’ – Job 9:27
“…Nothing tends more to relieve that overwhelming sense of wretchedness, with which the heart of the sufferer is sometimes oppressed, than a generous pity for a fellow weeper!”
“Your long and intimate letter gave me great pleasure. There is a sympathy in the feeling of people who have been recently afflicted, which cannot be expected to be found in others; a mutual chord, which, touched, vibrates with a kindred sound. We have not suffered exactly alike. But we have suffered; and that circumstance has made us love each other better than we did before.” – The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God by John Angell James, 1841
There truly is sympathy in people who have been recently afflicted. I have found this to be so true in recent months. I have connected with other widows who are suffering as I am. I have also connected with women who have lost a sister or a child. I never thought I’d have a need for a “group”. But, I went at the urging of my son. And I am so glad I foundgriefshare. I thank God for these fellow weepers.
“It started to make sense to her now, how people that undergo terrible loss or tragedy manage to keep living. She never really understood it before, but the thing was the body will shock you, so that maybe you don’t believe it all at once. And then, if you keep moving, a day goes by, and another. And since the worst thing you ever imagined actually came true, that becomes your reality, something else takes the place in your mind, and you continue on.” – from The Smart One by Jenifer Close
I don’t know if it’s exactly that you don’t believe it all at once. It’s more like you can’t take in the finality of it all at once. It takes a while for death to become a day-to-day reality. Sometimes it will just hit you: this is how it is going to be from now on. And you go on, living that new reality as best you can.
I think about that phrase, “the worst thing you ever imagined actually came true”. I think sometimes it makes me a little reckless – as if, what have I got to lose? I have to be careful to remember I still have children and grandchildren who need me.
Last year was hard. This year seems harder. “Celebrating” without extended family isn’t easy. Some are gone, some just don’t come around. I read articles that say this:
“Maybe in that year, or in a string of years, it feels like Christmas just doesn’t work for you. Maybe while everyone else is enjoying the season and dancing to jingle bells it all rings hollow to you. ” -from When Christmas Loses Its Cheer
“What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.” fromChristmas Is For Those Who Hate It Most
I read these articles and find a glimpse of hope. My mind and heart begin to connect a bit more. All I know but have set aside in sorrow comes back to me.
“I’m not going to put it up anymore,” Mom told me as she sent me home with her two-foot tree after Christmas in 2017. We hadn’t put up a tree since we moved to Birmingham, so I thought it would be perfect. I didn’t realize how her words rang so true; less than two months later she was gone. She wouldn’t ever put up a Christmas tree again.
Today I thought, ‘What would mom do?’ So, I climbed up to the attic and got the little tree. And the wreath. And my decorating is done. I’ve made cookies and wrapped presents for a little girl I may never meet and mailed a few gifts to my kids. Now I have my tree and wreath. But I have so much more. I just need to be reminded of it every now and then.
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. – Luke 2:10-11