Written By Melisse Copley
Human Good Series: What Is Grief, Anyway?
Oakley asked me to write a post on grief. Wow, i can’t tell you how much larger and formidable a request that is than I’d first suspected. I usually do my best (and easiest) writing when I’m writing honestly and about my feelings. Grief, however, is a different story. For me, anyway. When I try to talk about grief, my heart rate increases. I can feel it right now. My eyes start to water. And I think of a million things I need to do other than sitting down to collect my thoughts on grief. Maybe it’s time to take up running - I’ve never thought that before.
The one thing that I am 100% certain about regarding grief is this: it’s personal. Each person grieves in their own way and their grief might look different from one loss to the next. I’ve lost several important people to various causes - from normal and strangely merciful to shocking and gut-wrenchingly traumatic. My grief has looked and played out differently each time.
Grief is not linear and it’s not felt in a vacuum. I can’t part and parcel out my grief into manageable pieces, no matter how hard I’ve tried. I also don’t have the happy privilege of only feeling my own sadness. I grieve for what I’ve lost, yes, but then I grieve again for what each member of our family and inner circle has lost. And that looks different depending on who I’m grieving for. Grief is complicated.
And though I can’t grieve in a vacuum, ironically, grief often leaves me feeling isolated. It’s a lonely business. Even when you’re hurting and you know the person next to you is hurting, there’s a dance that takes place. How does the person next to me need to grieve? Shall I enter in? Try and talk about it? Sit silently? Will talking about my sorrow compound another’s own sorrow? It’s so very complicated. And exhausting.
However, oh, thank God for this word – however. I know, at the very core of my being (and sometimes only there), that my grief is not standard issue. I’m told, I do not grieve as the world grieves, without hope. Even as I dare to bring up the issue of hope, the first tears fall from my eyes. (Are you impressed I made it this long? If you know me, then you are most certainly surprised.) Who am I to hope? If you knew the wrestling, questioning, and relentless confusion that has become my companion in my relationship with God, you’d understand why I ask that question: who am I to hope? And yet, I know God cannot contradict Himself. I know He’s made a way. And even if a million things I thought I knew about God are fuzzy right now, I’m not unclear on that. I know His character. And I believe His promises.
Grief has changed who I am. It truly has. There are aspects of my personality that I believed would always be me that are now completely foreign to me. I remember them, but they no longer suit me. Even so, I cling to that still small voice assuring me that I don’t grieve as one without hope. I don’t always understand it. In fact, rarely can I explain it, but I’m certain I’m being held by something greater than myself (and the constructs that I once believed made up who I am in this world).
Melisse Copley lovingly referred to as "La La" in our family, is the aunt to The Weddle Boys. She and Peyton had an exceptional bond and cherished each other's sense of humor and outlook on life.