My wife and I are watching a series on Netflix right now called The Crown. It’s about the House of Windsor featuring the long reign of Queen Elizabeth. It’s hard to believe that she is the longest lasting monarch in Great Britain’s history with a total of 65 years at the time of this writing. She was preceded by her father King George VI who was an interesting character in his own rite.
While I have enjoyed getting to know the history of the family, the most interesting character in the series to me has been Winston Churchill. He was the Prime Minister of Great Britain during and after WW2. Something that I discovered about him while watching this series is that he was also a writer and a painter.
On the last episode of season one he is getting his portrait painted per request from the Cabinet. An artist is hired and the relationship between the two is awkward but fascinating. One exchange between the artist and Churchill is one such case of pure awkward-ness when Churchill asks how many paintings he paints per year, to which the artist’s wife replies something like 6 – 9 paintings. Churchill fires back with his number being between 60 – 90!
Sizing each other up, they both secretly view the other’s work in between their time together in the studio. The artist comments on Churchill’s painting of the same pond over 20 times, saying that he can see something dark and troubling in the pond in all it’s variations. Churchill is confused as to why he thinks this points to something deep and painful until he uncovers when he actually started painting the pond, which was just around the time of his two year old daughter’s passing.
Remember that time you watched Bruce Willis finally discovers the truth in the Sixth Sense?
The surprise had the same feeling for me. It was one of those moments where I was taken off guard from the instant pity that went out to the old Prime Minister. Like a flood over the soul that departs leaving the soul barren and vulnerable.
This came at a time when a family member of mine had been sick for weeks on end – long enough to make me consider the possibility of never having them back like we were so used to. People lose their health, quality of life, or life itself everyday. I knew in the back of my mind that they would more than likely be back on their feet in no time, but there’s always the possibility. How are we different than anyone else that has lost their health never to recover?
Fortunately, I’ve not known the kind of acute grief that comes with something like the loss of a spouse or child. Because of this I feel that in some way I’m not qualified to say anything about grief, but that’s not true. I’ve painted a few ponds over and over in my life like Winston Churchill did. Grief is as much a part of life as is any holiday. Just because you’ve not lost a loved one to death doesn’t mean you haven’t grieved.
For those of us that have not grieved at significant levels, it can be like a ship hedging the storm with never entering it head on. People that have grieved significantly have been in the high seas and are in some way never out of it. John Maxwell said it best saying, “No sailor ever distinguished himself in a smooth sea.” People who have been, or are in, grief’s storm make better story tellers simply because they’ve lived it! They’ve been to the edge and have volumes of counsel etched into the interior walls of their souls.
This post has one point that I’d like to share with you.
- Write when it hurts.
Your grief reveals what is inside you and we need your story. No mirror breaks the same way when a rock is hurled at it and no one breaks in the same way either. No one can tell your story of loss because it is as unique to you as your thumb print. You never know when God is going to use your story in someone else’s life that is heading into rough waters, hedging the storm front, or in the middle of the torrent.
Putting pen to paper helps to drain the bile that fills the inkwell of your loss.
The tragedy is that most of us who grieve will allow it to be wasted, or at least not have it put to the best of use. Grief is a thief. Fear of being misunderstood from those who have grieved at a more significant level is causing hesitation in my typing at the moment. If you are someone who has grieved the loss of someone significant, I do not consider myself to be your teacher. I want to learn from you. This post can be for you to help me better understand what has been your experience. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!