Let me begin by qualifying my blog with the acknowledgement that not very many people subscribe to my little epistles. Thus the scribblings of an old woman don’t affect all that many of you. You may find this blog helpful in dealing with loss, but even if you don’t, writing serves as a catharsis for me, and so I write.
I always wondered why the ancients believed in a flat earth. As a young child I saw hills and valleys and knew the earth held form. Why didn’t they? What was wrong with them? I finally figured it out.
Since Alma’s death, new truths assail me daily. As an adult, I know that the current life expectancy is a 20th century phenomenon. The ancients lived with death. Without antibiotics they lost their children to disease. With crude hunting tools they lost their mates to hunting accidents. Their resulting emptiness and flat lives colored their perception of the world. I totally get it now. They lived grief stricken lives.
Yet even now death steals loved ones away, stealing our joy in the process. This weekend another tsunami of grief overwhelmed me. I suddenly realized birthdays and holidays loomed before me…7 momentous days in the next two months, seven momentous days without Alma. I felt like someone pulled the plug on my reservoir of joy and I couldn’t stop crying. I felt empty. Flat. Luckily (or unluckily) I was at church when this hit me.
The natural tendency is to pull back. Isolate ourselves so we don’t cause embarrassment or judgment as yet another wave of grief overwhelms us. And that is the exact opposite of the approach we should be taking. I somehow got funneled to the very front row last Sunday, so I was pretty visible and as much as I tried to hide my tears, I’m sure I was a spectacle. The ministry of my church family, their support and prayers, lifted me over that initial wave. In the afternoon my oldest son helped us map out a way to get past Alma’s birthday. You see, it’s people who help us get over losing people.
So my antidote to the flat earth is a simple prescription of love from those closest to you. If you know someone struggling with grief, just give the poor soul a hug. Save your words for prayer. Be the form and substance that lifts a person from the flat earth they are experiencing. Be a mountain of strength for another.