Filling the void after a great loss
HAPPY THOUGHTS & PET PEEVES
Carolyn (Sue) Hendrick
There are many beautiful poems that are written about nature. None of them hold a candle to the writer of the Book of Genesis as the Creation story is told. It begins, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void (RSV).” From this description, we can envision a darkness that waits to be filled as only God is capable of doing.
Some people see the earth as a living thing. It is a great ball of spiritual treasure that gives life, sustenance and meaning to everything that lives on it. Genesis describes human beings as having been created from the earth itself. Life within the body is then seen as made possible by the very breath of God. As men and women, we are given the gift of a truly close relationship with our Creator that fills the void within each of us.
Because of this gift, we who have felt the closeness of a familial relationship can now share that with those we love. If we are fortunate, we will find a spouse, children and others that can join us in what would be a formless void and give our lives true meaning and purpose. When we suffer the agony of a great loss, that void returns into our spirits and we are lost to grief.
The loss of the closest people in our lives turns us out to a desolate desert. Our world is forever shaken and broken. For a time, we may even lose our closeness to God. Unfortunately, this type of grief is a certain part of every life. It is said that the loss of a child is the most difficult. I would argue that the loss of a spouse is equally intense. One psychologist decided that the grief process takes five years to come to a full circle. It begins with shock or unbelief, works its way through denial, “this cannot happen to me,” becomes anger, “what kind of God would do this,” surrenders into resignation, and settles into the possibility of moving on.
When we suffer a great loss, we are often tempted to withdraw from our lives as we knew it. A time of re-grouping is a good idea. Some psychologists say that we should give ourselves at least a year before we make any major decisions that would require any substantial changes. If we are fortunate to have family and friends, we will be lifted up and sustained somewhat through the toughest times. I am a firm believer in trying new things.
I have no doubt that for every person and every loss there is a way to survive. As a lover of nature, I always look for the signs of hope that are all around us like special telegrams that say, “you can make it.” Every day offers special surprises. In the busy society we live in, grief can offer a time of slowing down, re-evaluating our lives, looking for new beginnings and adventures no matter how small they may be. The love for the ones that we lost will always be a part of us, but the empty void of loss can be filled. It only takes a little time and a willing spirit to give our new lives a chance.
Sue Hendrick lived in Diboll for several years. Although she now resides in Lufkin, Diboll will always be her East Texas home.