Grief, and Encounter

You ever have those days, work isn’t going well, the kids are stealing donuts, you’ve got boogers in your nose making it hard to breathe, your legs are in agony, and there’s no racing to distract you?  Just me?

Well Reader-land, if you’ve had that experience or one like it, then you will understand repetitive actions.  For some, it’s checking the mail.  For others, maybe moving pillows or furniture, still more might clean up.  For me, since I can’t do anything it’s hitting refresh on email and scrolling down Facebook, or Wastebook, as it should be known.  And that was happening today.

Well, Mary Ferri shared this Ted Talk to whoever needed it.  I normally zip by Ted Talks because they are five minutes completely out of context of the real world, offering hope or a vision but not a way forward.  This one caught my eye, probably because the mouse scroll wheel was a bit laggy.  The Tobii is great with eye-gaze but not a powerful PC.  Anyway, take a look.

Now, some of you will say that I stopped scrolling because of the tall blonde, but you would be wrong.  It was because of the miscarriage and death of her father.  I read that, paused, turned on the volume, and listened to her talk about her husband’s death.

It’s about to go deep, Reader-land.  Are you ready?

Mel and I have had miscarriages, plural.  I can’t express the feeling to you, and you can’t understand it unless you go through it.  Like she says in the video.  Our babies shared our life for a brief time, and we remember them.  Mel has also lost her mother to cancer, something I shared only as an in-law.  If you know Mel though, she is very fond of her mother, and I can vouch for happy similarities between the two,  which I am chuckling about right now but will not share.  Mel and Carol went together, whether in thought process or actually together to go help Grandma.  And I seriously doubt I would have ever been blessed to marry Mel if her mom didn’t like me!

And now, unfortunately, unless God works a miracle, she’s going to lose having me here.  We’ve discussed my peace with death, but we have only briefly discussed Mel coping.  And I want Mel to be able to grow and move forward after, I don’t want anyone giving her crap about letting go because I hope I did some good that she and the kids don’t forget me!

And then I saw this whole video, and I had a thought.  Like all Ted Talks, she made a point then doesn’t offer concrete examples, just vaguely points in the direction we need to go.  So I am right!  But let’s break down the key point here!  We don’t move on and cast aside our loved ones who have died.  For that matter, our friends and acquaintances as well!  We never move on but move forward because those people had a unique mark on our lives, we are who we are because of them.  So she gets it right here!  Woo!

Why, Reader-land, are we forever affected by those we encounter?  Why can’t we move on?

A theory.  I posit to you first that emotions in and of themselves are natural and ordered good.  Our human biochemical makeup allows for emotions, and they aren’t evil in any way.  Some emotions are deeper, though, and are harder to let go.  Grief, especially.  Why does grief or joy tend to be so clingy!?  I don’t think that biochemical reactions should be held on forever, so why is this lady saying we can’t move on?  Like, after the chemical reactions are gone, move on, right?

Ah, metaphysics!  You rogue!  We can’t scientifically prove what makes us rational, and the second we ask about it, we are doing philosophy.  Basically, there’s no chemical that can be linked to rational thought.  So now we have no way of justifying what she says, right?  Unless you go to metaphysics, and the concept of the rational soul. download (1)

So, we humans are rational beings, unlike any other animal on earth.  It makes us different. You grieve more than a physical reaction to a loss but a rational reaction to that loss.  And we don’t move on because that person had influenced your rational self, rather than the physical only.  It’s funny, because so many arguments against the existence of God center on suffering but by that same argument, we establish a moral and rational good that can’t be explained by science, indicating a higher level above humanity.  Which strongly aligns with a concept of God.

We hardly study metaphysics anymore, it’s out of fashion, but it’s the answers we are looking for. Meta physics, or beyond physics, things that cannot be explained by the physical.  We, humans, are body and rational soul, and as such we are affected in body and rational soul!  That is why grief is so powerful, so painful, and we never move on but move forward.  That is why joy is the same way!  We are affected in both parts of our whole.  And like I said, every encounter leaves its effects, and makes us who we are.  If we cast it aside, we are denying a part of us that was influenced by that encounter, we are denying a part of who we now are.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but encounter is exactly how God is reaching to us, not through just a biochemical reaction, but to our rational soul.  It’s Jesus’ modus operandi in the Gospels and our lives!  

You may say this is banana oil, or that there is nothing beyond the physical.  You’d be wrong but I would love to discuss it.  Consider Emersons Life Well Lived, he’s not talking about physical things but immaterial things that can’t be measured!? And human concepts of goodness and right have no basis in nature which is the law of survival, not common good.

It’s funny, I have written more than is in a normal Ted Talk.  But if that is what it takes!  So let’s remember that those who have gone through grief don’t move on, they move forward, enriched because they were formed by encounter with others.

4 thoughts on “Grief, and Encounter”

  1. So beautiful, Joe! I saw your Mom today at mass and she asked if I was reading your blog. I said no, but decided to jump in to your latest. If I see her tomorrow, I’ll thank her, as I do you.
    God bless,
    Barbara Mirus

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  2. Every post I plan to leave a comment. Every post I am moved; to deeper thought, to tears, to laughter. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, your struggles, your journey. You will never know all the lives you have touched. You and your family will always hold a special place in my heart and in my prayers.

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  3. This makes me think of Bishop Sheen’s statement that”Love is the ambassador of loss.” There is loss because there had been love, and loss is permanent in this life. Happily, there is another realm.

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