When I was in high school you would often see scenes in movies depicting someone being swallowed up by quicksand. It was a frightening thought to be trapped in such a seemingly helpless situation. No one could come near enough to help the person or they too would be drowning in the quicksand.
I was thinking about how grief acts much the same way…swallowing you up into itself. You feel frightened, trapped, and even helpless at times.
Others may not want to get too close; they too may get swallowed up by this quicksand called grief.
Mostly people do not know what to say, however they mean well.
Quicksand presses in on all sides of your body
making you feel as if you will suffocate.
When you are trapped in quicksand the most important thing on your mind is surviving long enough to work your way back to stable ground. If you struggle you will plunge deeper into the mucky mud. Struggling to distance yourself from grief will only cause it to linger around longer, perhaps for the rest of your life.
Did you know the way to escape quicksand is to wiggle your legs?
The odd thing about quicksand is that it appears to be solid ground.
It looks normal. It is only when you step into it do you realize it will not support your weight.
I do not pretend to understand everything about grief. I remember when I was a still young my grandmother died. I was not ready to lose her; we had so much fun together. I can remember out of the blue after she died being overcome with grief while driving or grocery shopping. The tears would burst forth without warning. They seemed to be an essential part of the healing process.
“The waters swirled about me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me.” Jonah 2:6
I surrender to this grief pressing against my whole being. It is futile to resist as it envelopes one’s entire being. I lie motionless waiting to float to the surface. The Lord’s own invisible hand sustains my soul. No one else would dare come that close.
The one thing you should not do if caught in quicksand, is fight with the sand. It will only make it that much more difficult to free yourself.
The human body will actually float in quicksand. You will not drown.
In the quicksand of grief…
I give myself permission to allow the tears to drench the surface.
Fighting back with anger and denial will not bring peace to my soul; instead it will feed the grief like sour milk.
What do you think about tears? Some people do not like to cry. Some even think crying is a sign of weakness. We hear parents admonishing children ‘don’t be a cry baby’. As a society we have not learned to grieve well. We tend to put on our ‘happy face’ no matter what.
The ability to free yourself completely from quicksand takes a considerable amount of energy. I won’t bore you here with the scientific details, but to remove one foot from quicksand requires the same amount of force as lifting a mid-sized car. Wow!
“The Lord, your God, who is in your midst, is a great and awesome God.” Dt. 7:21
Release from this grief may take years, and maybe that is how it should be. When the emotional state of grief diminishes you will once again breathe in fresh air.
The memories of your loved one live on in you and through you. I am reminded of the final words of each Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass when the priest says, ‘Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit…’
Everyone who loved Jesus also experienced the quicksand of grief.
How would they continue without his earthly presence? Who would be there to guide them? To encourage them? To teach them?
Who would be there to inspire them to be better than they were?
Those who loved Jesus were no different than us. They had all the same emotions, hopes, and fears. The Emmaus journey encapsulates all that it means to be human in a few well written verses.
“I, the Lord, am with you always, until the end of the world.” Mt. 28: 20
Without Grief would we ever be able to recognize much less appreciate Joy?