I am not sure, however I may have moved into another phase. I know that grieving is not a linear process, but this feels completely new to me.
Am no longer trampolining around, landing on GUILT, ANGER, DENIAL, NUMBNESS, BARGAINING ETC as I have been constantly for the past 5 months.
Instead, I feel defeated, deflated ... it feels like reality? I guess that was inevitable, and I find it amazing that it has taken me this long to arrive here ... just shows what a trauma losing your spouse is. Puts it into perspective.
I am crying MORE THAN USUAL (didn't think that was possible) and especially at home, even at my desk. This hurts even more than before.
I am also feeling very philosophical as I find myself at this new destination.
Thanks to Kendra for recommending that I read:
C S Lewis - A Grief Observed http://www.amazon.com/Grief-Observed-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652381/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243856371&sr=1-1
J Sittser - A Grace Disguised http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Disguised-Soul-Grows-through/dp/0310258952/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243856256&sr=8-1#
as both books (which I read this weekend) have satiated the need I currently have to approach this on an intellectual level, rather than emotionally.
I'd recommend reading C S Lewis' book, especially as he essentially invites you to go on his journey with him and his thought process is laid bare, as is his soul.
As part of the process I have been giving quite a lot of thought to my spirituality, my faith and what my beliefs are.
Watch this space. I'm planning to answer some of the discussion questions at the back of Sittser's book, as it may help me. Apart from the fact that there was a great deal of godbotheringTM throughout the book, I found it excellent. Truly helpful and thought-provoking.
Two things that Sittser says really stand out (for me):
- Why NOT me? (because there is so much suffering in the world, and death is so commonplace in many third world countries, conversely, in the West we tend to have more control over our lives and expect to be rewarded - e.g. good health for good behaviour. We expect justice. Consequently we are so shocked when we lose a loved one, and I know I wailed, "Why YOU?" over and over again. "Why couldn't an evil person have died instead of you?")
I found this humbling and it placed Cliff and I into the big picture, ie. globally.
- We can choose how to react to the tragedy. Strangely enough I had already touched on this issue here (http://boomayhew.blogspot.com/2009/06/selfish-grief.html), however Sittser takes this a step further by explaining that if we become bitter and turn ourselves into victims, it is literally soul-destroying.
As far as religion and the Church goes, let me lay my cards on the table first. The reason I am sharing this here is so that when I tackle the discussion points, there will be a point of reference.
I have a strong belief, but I am not sure exactly what it looks like. I was baptized and confirmed, having followed my Mom into the Church of England. My Dad had his beliefs but never went to Church. He used to say, "Say a prayer for me," as he dropped us off at church, when I was a child. Cliff's Mum's background was Jewish and I have no idea what his Dad's belief is, but I do know that none of their children were christened or confirmed.
I do know what my belief does not look like however. I certainly don't believe in a God that resembles Santa Claus, who lives with chubby angels that sit around on fluffy white clouds. Perhaps I don't even believe in God, but simply believe in goodness. I know beyond doubt, my faith is that strong, that there is life after death ... I just don't know what it looks like.
I no longer believe in a particular Church, rather opting for community. Living in and visiting too many poor countries where the people are too skinny and the priests are too fat does that to you. Additionally, I can pray anywhere ... a Church is only a building, as is a mosque or a temple. Cynicism? Yes, because my upbringing has been truly open, and I was encouraged to question rather than follow without question. My parents felt (as did Cliff's) that one should have the right to choose their own belief/faith when they grew up. I respect people and friends who go to church as I do friends who attend their synagogue or mosque. Everyone must have (or should have) the right to follow their chosen faith and belief. It's right up there with freedom of speech and FREEDOM as far as I am concerned. For me, the bible is a collection of stories to convey some very important morals, thus I believe it was written as a reference point/transferable examples for people to follow. Likewise the Ten Commandments are a code of ethics/morals that are an absolute must if we are not to live in a state of anarchy that resembles, "Mad Max".
I also have a huge issue with the whole "My God is better than your God" attitude, and would go as far as saying that money and (poorly interpreted) religious teachings are the root of all evil-doings in the world.
I guess it would be fair to say that I follow the teachings of many religions, but I don't belong to a particular faith anymore. Islam being one of them, I can't argue with their sentiment (and will probably be wearing a yashmak in Libya this coming Christmas, for security and out of respect for my hosts). I also believe there is something in the Buddhist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om_mani_padme_hum - it certainly seems that I have found some hidden and forgotten strength(s) this year.