I have just re-read C.S. Lewis’s small book, A Grief Observed. I have read it several times before, and it just seemed pertinent reading for me at the moment. Some elements of his experience are, I suppose, pretty universal, except that not everybody would have his outstanding ability to capture it in words.
Other elements I don’t identify with. He describes grief as feeling very like fear, and I can’t say that has been my experience – at least, not so far. There is a definite sense of it being totally outside my control, but that is already a familiar feeling, having been through a disintegrating marriage and a very unwanted divorce which my most strenuous efforts over many years failed to avert. I have stopped fearing the loss of control, and have become more certain of God’s trustworthiness when life is out of control than of any other fact in the universe.
Nonetheless, I am not OK. On Sunday I was willing certain people to ask me how I was. There were a few people present with whom I would have felt safe enough not to wear what my father used to call an “evangeli-grin” and say “fine”. There were a few people I wanted to get hold of and say “I am not OK, and I don’t know what to do about it.” Thankfully one of them did ask me and has kept in regular touch with me all week.
I’m someone who likes my solitude but right now (just as all my closest friends are going away on holiday!) I feel as if I need people around me. Yesterday I wanted to scream at the universe, “I AM NOT ALL RIGHT!”
Today I went down to the sea shore. Not the gently beautiful Mediterranean nor the majestically moving Atlantic, just the sea front at Worthing, the place of my birth. Still, the sea is the sea and I think there can be few ills in life that are not, at least in some degree, cured by a good blustery walk along the sea shore. Sitting there on the shingle I felt the gentle, familiar presence of my Father God, and it was very real. I don’t know how anyone can doubt His existence – He manifests Himself so very readily whenever we take time to be still and engage with Him.
And I have come back feeling as if I am not all right, and it’s all right not to be all right. But if I am not all right, it is all right. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well, as Mother Julian said. I feel as if half of me was ripped away when my marriage ended and now that half has gone altogether. Life will never be the same. It may be better, freer, safer – who knows? But it will never be the same. And I am not all right. But I am held by One who has everything in control and who makes no mistakes and who loves me more deeply than I have ever imagined, and at a very fundamental level everything really is all right.