Beyond Grief

As the world watches J35 grieve the loss of her sweet baby whale, I marvel at the universal sense of loss this whale brings to humanity. She moves me to tears, thinking of the deep breathes she must take in her time of panic and fear when her baby’s lifeless body slips from her control and she prepares herself to dive deep to get her baby back, a deep fall into the abyss. When will the mama let go?

That’s a question that only she can answer.

She is “beyond grief.” She won’t eat as far as the researchers can tell. All she does is try to save her already dead baby. She is on a “tour of grief” as one researcher called it. Just like J35 the whale, a human hurting mama will do things that make no sense. She will go to any depth to try to fix what has broken, while her human logic puts up the wall of knowing that she cannot fix her lost child, yet she may continue to do so at the sacrifice of all else. She will tell a complete stranger odd details or collapse into tears, or anger, at the drop of a pin.

As for J35, those from the outside want to help, but they can’t. Any interference could cause the whale to never recover, and her species cannot handle outside influence at this time of decline. A human mama cannot accept or handle outside influence often either. She cannot be open to everyone; there will be few that she can speak to without knowing that she has failed them or that they just cannot understand. Or, she will draw inside herself to avoid the pity, those looks of pity…

Yet, at the same time, it is the whale’s pod, her family, that is making all the difference today, day 9. Instead of just allowing her to fall behind or forcing her away from her dead baby’s body, her pod family is surrounding her, keeping close and being available if they are needed.

Friends, that is what a grieving parent needs! She (and he… dads, too!) needs to know that she isn’t crazy; that it is ok to be consumed by the darkness and the crazy thoughts for this brief period of intense mourning. She needs to know that if she wants to talk, you will let her. If she wants to ignore the pain for a time, you will let her.

((A side note: BEYOND GRIEF One of the researchers interviewed was correct… we need a word for this crushing period of unexplainable, fully excusable, excruciating agony. Mourning and grieving are useful terms in the early weeks (mourning) and in describing the life-long journey of loss (grief); yet, what word could somehow come close to encapsulating the original torment description? There isn’t one. Likewise, a grieving widow or widower used to be able to wear black for as long as they felt they were in the season of mourning – that time when pain and heartache fill their waking thoughts as well as their painful dreams – alerting those around them, but what can a grieving parent do? What do any grieving folks do now? There is nothing, and it causes society to fall further and further away from compassion, hope, and understanding.))

What can we do for a grieving parent? Don’t fall away. Be available, but not in her face. Don’t judge her ‘beyond grief’ period, her mourning, or her grief process. Don’t tell her what she must do. Invite her, call her, reach out, and wait. Mostly, though, pray. Pray faithfully as you never have before. You may never get to share a conversation with the grieving parent, even that you have been praying. But, you can fall at the feet of our Lord to lift up and surround the grieving parent, even from the outskirts of the group of those closer to her. Remember, for many grieving parents, there comes a point when they cannot pray. No matter how much or how deeply they have prayed before, the words, the feelings, and the thoughts of prayer will fail them. While they do not feel it at the time, God is still holding them and YOU can be one of the ‘family’ who is VITAL. Please pray.

2 Comments to “Beyond Grief”

  1. Priceless advice my friend! You are so loved!

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