Grief is a funny thing. In the odd and strange sense. The kind that encircles you and closes you off. When you feel like the only person you can look out for is yourself since you are seemingly driving on “empty”. Even then, one feels that they are failing at that too. I’ve basically been doing some self-diagnosing. I gather that I have experienced two major traumas in the past two years. And COVID-19 just magnified everything. Grief can be cumulative too. Mine has been.
I am learning that grief and bereavement are two separate things though they often involve the same emotions. The latter has a finality about it.
I have been feeling both intense sorrow and great distress over a few things. The kind that shuts you up. When words feel empty. Not because you feel hopeless, but – helpless. The kind that really makes you long for heaven. The storm I was seemingly weathering just refused to die down. I am certain many can relate. It’s been a really weird season. For most of us, if not all of us.
Interestingly, loud in my mind was what Francis D. Imbuga wrote in his play – Betrayal in the City, “When the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say the man is mad.”
I believe I am also experiencing some sort of trauma as a Ugandan. Thinking of the things happening in my country distresses me, and yet I remain hopeful. It’s very possible that many Ugandans are traumatized but they don’t even know it.
In A Grief Observed, C.S Lewis says something about grief being so much like fear. I think I understand a bit of what he meant by that. What I possibly have been most afraid of – was to lose my mind. Literally.
The human psyche is such an interesting thing. God has made us in such a way that our minds and bodies will act to self-preserve. My mind did shut down. I could not feel. I was numb. I intentionally got off social media for a while because I couldn’t take any more bad news. Friends were losing parents. Parents were losing children. Churches have been preaching and doing “their own things”. I couldn’t even bring myself to call or text other people grieving too. I felt like I was becoming something I did not recognize. A shell. But God!!!!! He is gracious!
I read on grief. It helped. I remember reading Chimamanda’s Notes on Grief and thinking, “she does have the gift of articulating things”. I couldn’t bring myself to re-read The Problem of Pain. I tried in vain to read Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air. Books have helped me grieve. Lamentations never read more apropos this season!
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
– Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV
(Please read the whole book for context, it’s only 5 chapters.)
I hibernated at my Mum’s. I escaped in books. I struggled with, and eventually stopped, “having” church. Online just made things harder. Through all this, my family has been most supportive. Mostly, by just being there for me. My mother’s such a godsend! She’s the embodiment of unconditional love for me. She trusted that the God we both love would carry me through. And He has. He is. Amaziima gali nti, I have had all the support I needed from far and wide. From even the most unexpected people. God really showed and reminded me that it is His business to take care of me. That He is – Immanuel. God with me. God with us.
I am convinced that God “assigned” me that one particular friend for this season. To just walk beside me. And faithfully, she has. Kyasiimire, I thank God for you.
I was afraid that something would give. And something did give. But here I am. Still standing. Coming Alive. Thankful.
I do realize that many people have had and are having a really rough season, and some with hardly any support. People, please…do look out for those God places in your path. Pray for your loved ones. Especially when you feel helpless concerning them. We are God’s Hands and Feet.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
– James 1:2-4 NIV