I Do Not Want to Grieve Quietly

I learned about death as a very young girl.   A neighbor who survived Vietnam was killed in a car accident.  One day he was a tall, dark-haired young man visiting his mother, the weight of the war stooping his once proud shoulders, the next day he was  a memory that haunted the neighborhood.

Death is no stranger to anyone. We’ve all  lost relatives, classmates, and friends. We learn to live again, but we’re never the same. Death is an amputation of the heart without anesthesia. We physically understand death, we know it’s inevitable, but we never get used to it.

This past year, my husband lost two father-figures. His own dad died when he was a child, so he has always sought out older men to mentor him. In July we lost our spiritual mentor, John, a man who befriended Scott as an 18 year old college student and discipled him for decades.

Grieve 2

Preaching John’s funeral was one of the hardest things Scott had to do.  Before we could even recover, another loss took our breath away.

When we moved to Washington ten years ago, we were befriended by a couple in the neighborhood, Kim and Kevin. We found ourselves warmly welcomed into their family circle, invited to parties, vacations, and  holidays with their family. Gradually, over cups of coffee on Saturday visits and an annual camping trip, Kevin’s dad became Poppa Al to us. We knew when Scott and my sons were invited to go on their annual hunting trip, the relationship was official.

Being a pallbearer for Poppa Al recently was the second hardest thing Scott faced. We knew death was coming, cancer is an enemy not all face and conquer. Loved ones had their chance to share their final words and cherish those last few weeks.

But, expecting a death doesn’t make it easier. Al was a quiet, a hard-working man who loved his family and served all those fortunate enough to know him. He was not one to draw attention to himself, except with his sense of humor.  He focused his time and energy on others.  He wasn’t famous. He wasn’t rich. Or so I thought until I attended his packed funeral.  His life had made such an impact, even his dentist attended.  He was rich in the legacy of love and thoughtful deeds he left behind.

 

Al Smith

My grief, coupled with the grief of the entire church, was a burden I could hardly bear quietly. It almost seems sacrilege to honor such deep loss with quietness. I scribbled these thoughts while holding myself together as we mourned the death of our dear Poppa Al.

 

 

I do not want to grieve quietly.

I do not want to sit on the hard wooden pew, politely dabbing away offending tears with a wadded tissue.

I do not want to sit still, firmly pressing my legs together to keep them from trembling.

I do not want to bite my tongue until it hurts, to keep the pain from escaping in loud, hiccupping sobs.

I do not want to stare at objects on the wall, not daring to blink, lest tears splatter the front of my black dress.

I do not want to participate in such  quiet, polite, socially acceptable mourning.

 

 

 I want to throw myself on the ground, unrestrained, and let my body pour out the grief as deeply as it poured out its love.

 I want to cry as loudly as I have laughed with my loved one.

 I want the tears to be unhindered to form two rivers of sorrow on my face, marring my make-up and proving how much I dread facing the next tomorrows.

 I want to weep passionately and show death is an amputation of the heart and that I will never, ever, ever be the same.

 But, there are rules of etiquette I dare not break, so I sit politely, biting, staring, and dabbing.

 

But I do not want to grieve quietly.

 

He is risen

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8 Responses to I Do Not Want to Grieve Quietly

  1. Judy Bodmer April 16, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    Thanks for sharing your heart, Mindy. You’ll comfort many who are going through a grieving season. Loss is difficult, but your words will ease the way.

    • Mindy Peltier April 17, 2014 at 8:57 am #

      Judy, thank you so much for your kind words. We feel orphaned. I’m thankful the Lord called Himself “the Father of the fatherless.” We know we’re truly not alone. It just has changed what our life on earth looks like.

  2. Roberrta Kehle April 16, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Mindy, you captured hearts with your honesty. My mom wasn’t afraid of displaying her grief at funerals. I was. Until recently I went through the same self-discipline. Growing older taught me God. understands a fractured heart. He holds us until the sobs have diminished. I’m still working on putting aside cultural dictates and imitating Him.. I sob with the the grieved. Thank you for postinfg this. 🙂

    • Mindy Peltier April 17, 2014 at 8:59 am #

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Roberta, I appreciate the vision to imitate Him and not what society demands. This is so true for every aspect of our Christian journey. Thank you for your visit, it was like a hug.

  3. Maureen April 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    My heart aches with yours. I don’t know if you are aware thar Libby had a miscarriage recently. Though perhaps not as difficult as losing one that you have known and loved for decades, still a loss nonetheless. Thanks for sharing what many of us feel. I’ve been thinking a lot about you and will continue too lift you and your sweet family before the Lord. Blessed Resurrection Day!

    • Mindy Peltier April 28, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      Maureen, I am so sorry to hear of this great loss for your family. When we lost a child to miscarriage Scott said something to me that has been the “floor” that I fell onto in my grief over and over. It didn’t keep me from grieving, but kept me from being lost in my grief. He said, “Mindy, we have created an eternal worshipper. Our child is at the feet of Jesus and will never know what it is to sin against Him.” If we can’t hold those precious children in our arms, we know they’re in the arms of Jesus. May you all find a way to go on with such a loss in faith.

  4. Sarah Gunning Moser April 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    Mindy:

    Your words are beautifully crafted, hitting hard and fast, because you wrote both what is true, and what is honest. You have been through this before, and you will heal…slowly. I think the closer you are to a person who dies, the longer it takes and the more painful it is. You have to both physically and emotionally “unplug” yourself from them. Yet just as the heart disconnects from the worldly presence you once knew, the spirit rises and expands as the pain recedes, and the spiritual connection grows.

    You have, not my sympathy, but my profound empathy.

    And you, yourself, are loved.

    Sarah M.

    • Mindy Peltier April 17, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Thank you for your warm thoughts and gracious love, Sarah. This is part of the healing we all need on our journey, to feel others arms around us while we miss the care of those we love.

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