Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Five - Advent Longing

"This space is with me all the time it seems. Sometimes the empty space is so real I can almost touch it. I can almost see it. It gets so big sometimes that I can't see anything else." - Arnold and Gemma 1983, 56I

"It is frequently said that the grief of bereaved parents is the most intense grief known. When a child dies, parents feel that a part of them has died, that a vital and core part of them has been ripped away. Bereaved parents indeed do feel that the death of their child is "the ultimate deprivation" (Arnold and Gemma 1994, 40). The grief caused by their child's death is not only painful but profoundly disorienting ~ children are not supposed to die. These parents are forced to confront an extremely painful and stressful paradox; they are faced with a situation in which they must deal both with the grief caused by their child's death and with their inherent need to continue to live their own lives as fully as possible. Thus, bereaved parents must deal with the contradictory burden of wanting to be free of this overwhelming pain and yet needing it as a reminder of the child who died."


In today's Friday Five, Sally suggests that we list five Advent longings:

"Christ is with us at this time of advent, in the darkness, and Christ is coming with his light- not the light of the shopping centre, but the light of love and truth and beauty.

What do you long for this advent? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? What is your prayer today?"

Five? 100? One. I only have one this year, and that is to learn to live in companionship with the empty space accompanying me all the time, the one that compels me to protect and guard this terrible grief as my connection to the child who is gone while at the same time nurturing its metamorphosis into memories that will renew life for those of us left behind.

Advent is a place of similar incongruence: the infant of light we want to embrace will become the man in the garden, alone and abandoned, with whom we are called to align ourselves completely. Perhaps it is some faint recognition of the agony of that journey that causes us to arm ourselves with the frail weapons of wrapping paper and electronic gadetry. Most years, our culture of advertising and consumerism enables us to pretend that we are not in the wilderness, but some years ~ some years the force of the desert wind flattens everything recognizeable in its landscape.

With all landmarks gone, I long to learn to live within that empty space, that crushing but perhaps vast space I imagine might be filled with the love of the One whose own experience of anguish and transformation creates the pathway winding through it.


(Quotations found


Nicole said...

Thank you for this.

("nacwolin" from Mitford)

MumPastor said...

thank you for your post. I am so sorry for your loss, and I admire your courage and strength in negotiating the wilderness of grief.

Twelve years ago, I lost a son born too soon, and then 11 years ago another, on New Year's Eve. Their deaths forever cloud the "holiday season" for me, even as I enter into the excitement with my three young daughters.

Wishing for you peace.

david said...

I felt compelled reading your post to read through your archives. I am so sorry. You are in my prayers.

Shalom said...

"Sighs too deep for words" - prayer for you.

Sally said...

(((GG))), all I can say is that transformation is a slow process, I want to tell you that you are not alone, but your loss is unique, and so of course in many ways aside from God you are. My prayers are with you dear one.

Sue said...


Wishing you peace.

Jennifer said...

Your eloquence describing your grief is heartwrenchingly beautiful.

Sophia said...

Thank you for these quotes-they express the reality perfectly. And for continuing to share your process with us.

Kathryn J said...

"Nurturing the metamorphosis" is such an interesting way of looking at this process. I'm not surprised that you write - I think it is on a level with breathing for you - but your eloquence in the midst of this terrible grief is amazing!

mompriest said...


Anonymous said...

I read, I take it in my heart and I pray.

"Most years, our culture of advertising and consumerism enables us to pretend that we are not in the wilderness, but some years ~ some years the force of the desert wind flattens everything recognizeable in its landscape."

Teaching music in a public school, I'm basically in charge of putting together a "winter concert" every year. A couple of years ago, one of our families' mom died and I just couldn't continue to go along with the whole cliche Christmas stuff. It has to have some meaning or at least some acknowledgement that not everyone is having a holly jolly one. So every year, I get the "what's this got to do with Christmas?" All I can think to answer is "think about it, people."

The illusion is a strong one.