Advent Waiting: Moments of Movement Differences in Grieving

There must have been total chaos in the creation of the universe. I like the way it is depicted in the movie The Tree of Life. Thundering, crashing, upheaval…  rolling in and out of darkness and light…

… constant movement…  bringing about beauty.


Bringing about life.

It’s as if the beauty of creation had to be filled with confusion to depict what was to come. Darkness. Brokenness. Pain. Death. What is.

Not what will be.

Life. Redemption. Restoration. Beauty.

No pain.

Sometimes life in the now, but not yet, is simply awful. It’s a dance of pain and joy. Heartache and healing. Clarity and confusion. Stillness and agitation. 

We wait for the Child King; we wait for redemption from pain.

We wait for the not yet, to be the finally now. 

He said he was sad on Friday, December 9th, the day before the day of sadness. I was sad on the day of sadness. It’s not that there aren’t other moments in time when I feel the loss – not a day goes by that my son who isn’t, but is, is far beyond the reaches of my conscious thoughts. I carry him with me always. Never here, yet always here.

But December 10th is the day. It’s the day that didn’t exist for that decade plus more when grief was repressed. It was December 7th or 8th, and then it was December 13th or 14. Like vapor, days just passed by without notice. I couldn’t notice. It was deep inside in a place where light doesn’t shine. Hidden in darkness I didn’t have to look at pain. I didn’t have to think. Or feel. Or remember.

Or live with “what if?”

For greater than a decade we didn’t talk about it. If he was sad, he didn’t express it. If I was sad, I didn’t know it. For me it was all deep down in the darkness waiting to spill out in an angry mess.

They say that’s how repressed memories are. They simply don’t exist, suspended in a dissociation of elapsed time.

He is an instrumental griever – a doer. He expresses grief by getting busy. I am an intuitive griever – a thinker feeler. I need to process.

I need to dance. 

I need to be in the abstract (like now) when only those who think in the abstract understand –in that place beyond words, where thoughts run in a pattern of ordered chaos. After almost fifteen years of repression, I need the the warmth of what can be and with a spark of imagination to find my momentum into the pain.

He wants to stay away from all that. Away from pain. Away from my grief. “I’ll wash dishes.” “I’ll vacuum. ” The subconscious thoughts drive him to his movement of grief, and away from my mine, even as he tries to do those things which are helpful.

Grief is hard work. Marriage is hard work. Grief in marriage is chaos.

One of the burdens of grief in relationship is that people express grief differently. It’s a simple concept really.

Not really.

When I need him, he is far away. Grieving in his way, and in his time. 

It can be lonely. Really, really, lonely.

I want to grieve together; he wants to grieve alone.

Yet it is all movement and movement is healing.

The only way to heal from our brokenness is through the movement that  flows in and out of our brokenness.

If we rest in brokenness too long the life is sucked out of us. It’s a  vacuum of endless sorrow, devoid of light. The movement is lost and we float without direction.

Still. Unmoving. Without air.

If we try to stay out of the brokenness, we miss the waves of growth that grace pours out only in the darkest places.

The movement is big, disturbing.



The movement is small, a whisper, floating on the breeze.

If we listen carefully we can hear the voice in the movement.

“It’s your grief not his. It belongs to you and you alone.”

“It’s his grief and not yours, it belongs to him and him alone.”

The movement is a dance of grief. The Holy Spirit spinning with me as we twirl through a cosmos of sadness… and joy… and sadness… and sadness… and joy… and joy…

When the Spirit is the choreographer, the movement is a perfect blend of grace filled Light within the darkness. He is the perfect partner to guide us through the chaotic endless movement of brokenness.

No two dances are alike. He has crafted each one to move in a different way. Unique. Beautiful.

Sometimes I stomp on His toes and hurt my feet. I want to dance my way, not His. Anger fills the space where harmony demands attention.

A dance of life.

It’s only when I step away from my Spirit Partner – my Choreographer- that my dance is confused with David’s waltz. He also dances with the Spirit. It’s a movement designed just for him. It doesn’t look anything like mine. But when he allows himself to enter into it, it is beautiful as well. Graceful. Purposeful. Healing.

Sometimes we just have to switch partners and accept that not everyone dances well together. The dance of grief is best led by the Spirit. No one else can lead. No one. 

As I was writing this yesterday a young boy died in a tragic accident.

A family torn.  Chaos. The circumstances for this family – this mother –  is reminiscent of the natural disaster victims I have been with.

Loss upon loss. Pain upon pain. Darkness within darkness.  

They will not find the rhythm of the dance for a very, very, long time.

Kyrie eleison seems to be my hearts cry this Advent season. Lord have mercy.

Only the One who sees the beginning and the end can enter into the darkness and reveal the way out. Maybe He’ll allow me to help facilitate that meeting – to reveal a movement in and out of brokenness for a newly torn family, here in my own community. For now I’ll pray.

For now we wait. 

For now we dance. 

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations

Solus Christus

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