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Monday, May 01, 2017


Loss. The poisoned gift that keeps on giving....Not to be flip, but I can't STAND people who monetize their tragedies and produce bromides that they promote as universal...(and I haven't even read her book, and won't)

I'm remembering Aeschylus
“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

Because we are all kneaded, broken, redirected, hammered, brought to our knees, enraged, reduced to despair, brought to community with fellow sufferers by loss (to name a few). But in different ways, and with different timing, and some of us die of it, some of us are crippled by it, some of us are reborn from the ashes of bitterness,, rage, regret and howling 2 am choking misery to reach out in love to others again. But no cookbook to guide us or anyone.

It's about Satan clawing us down, gnawing our bones and seeking to keep us frozen in Hell (the realm of the wrathful has a place specially marked for me) because we are even more vulnerable to the sin of despair when bereft.

It is sometimes, by the grace of God, about a feeling of being carried lovingly by a church community. by friends, by a Good Shepherd who finds one lost, howling in pain, and holds one broken, frozen and brings one home again. When one is helpless.

As for raising resilient kids? I don't know how the hell anyone does that. All we can do is love them, give them structure, model self discipline for them, make em go to church, raise them to love their country and their neighbours, train them to help old ladies across the street, obey the Ten Commandments, and basically defend the helpless and weak while working hard enough not to be a burden on anyone else. Whether that takes or not anyone knows, We can TRY to instill good values in them, and present them with the elements of a classical education. But resilience? That is a stew made up of genetics, random environmental influences that are NOT all within parents controls (sorry helicopter parents), friends, teachers, other relatives, choices and experiences the kid has.

Personally, I rather liked some of the ideas Valiant presented in a course I took at Moscow on the Charles an eternity ago. When he looked at "Adaptations to Life" . Virtually all of the things people did that made a difference in their happiness and health were adult decisions, lifestyle choices, and ethical choices, plus styles of interaction and reactions to others and life events.

By contrast, the pushy upwardly striving parents around me now (I was bad enough, but the next generation are extreme) think that one can FORM a child to be a super-being if one just pushes and molds them and exposes them to the right things.

Valiant appealed to me during my anguished young adulthood because he wrote about people I could relate to: who faced adversity and overcame (in some cases) difficult circumstances by fortitude, mature behaviours, adaptive defences, etc. In other words, by being a grownup .

So, if we talk about kids who lose a father? I don't know how a mom can make them "resiliient" after that. It's the kids themselves whose own choices will do that. The most terrible thing in the world that can happen to a kid is to lose a parent. Mother or father. Those kids will never recover. She may want to THINK that they have, and that they are fine, and she may even believe it. They may collude with her in proving to her how resilient they are, because they want to make mom happy and get that anguished "are you OKAY honey" look off her face...They want to think they are okay too. But they aren't In some sense, they are amputees. They will have something missing from their family for the rest of their lives, and they will suffer from a kind of phantom limb syndrome vis a vis an absent father they almost feel there still, it hurts so much still.

I know for myself, merely losing a brother suddenly in his 40s still rips my heart out unpredictably at random moments. And that's NOTHING compared to a child losing a dad. But one comes across an old email, or predictive typing starts to put in their phone number, or their image pops up in a photo search somewhere and then one realises they are ashes in some urn somewhere and it sucks.

Loss is loss. An emptiness. Not a growth experience. It can't ever be filled. We aren't amoeba. Or fiddler crabs that can grow back their claws after they get ripped off in a fight. When we lose someone we love, we go crazy for a while (at least some of us). Or we go numb. Or we want to punch the lights out of every !@#$er who looks at us crosseyed. Or we want to drown our sorrows. Or...there are a hundred responses.

Getting on with life after loss is a bit like learning to dare to step out on one of those hideously frail rope bridges over a chasm, not knowing if it has rotted. Not even sure if one cares if it has rotted. Getting on with life after loss is like chewing a tasteless meal because one has a job to do and can't be passing out from hunger, but one has no appetite. Getting on with life after loss is like being a Martian mouthing the English words in response to greetings and questions from people and seeming to get it right, so no one suspects, but one hasn't a clue what any of it means. Getting on with life after loss is like a big, fat red painful swelling over a splinter that one either cannot or is too chicken to pull or poke out of one's finger. It throbs, and hurts like hell, and the finger gets redder and more sore until finally one lances it and gets the damn sprinter out, but then you have a big cut and now that hurts like hell...Getting on with life after loss is (for a while) feeling like the bad example person Jesus was talking about when he wrote about "and if the salt has lost its savour, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out." Getting on with life after loss can mean nasty, envious, bitter feelings of hating the apparently charmed lives of those around one whose families and loved ones are never struck by lightning or disease or violence. Getting on is about taking multiple detours each day to avoid things that remind one. Is about never, ever letting oneself cry because if one did Niagara would be there.

You know in the end only that you are a miserable lost sheep and that no one can help you, only the Good Shepherd. I honestly don't know how anyone can recover from loss without faith in a loving God who searches for us when we are as lost as we feel our loved ones are to us.

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