Punching Clocks and the Tao of Grief
Woke up at 3 o’clock on Sunday morning having just punched the radio alarm off the bedside table. I was having a dream where Gayle was driving her car and I was in the backseat. Then, the car having pulled up, she was in the backseat with me, the keys were still in the ignition and somebody tried to get into the driver’s seat and move the car off. Well, in the dream I led with my left and as I punched the guy from here to kingdom come, woke up having knocked the radio off the bedside table. And not just a gentle push mind you – I gave it something.
By the time I woke up properly on Sunday, gone to church, preached two services, came back, went off and did the Remembrance Service, came back after that and then sat down, I realised what was going on. So much emotion built up from last week hadn’t gone anywhere. What I should have done on coming back from the funeral was gone for a swim, or gone and spoken to somebody and just got it all out, but instead I hid myself away, then went and ministered at a Conference on Friday and Saturday, until it built and built and had to explode. And it did, and it’s lucky I led with my left and not my right, otherwise Gayle might have got the full brunt of it.
But in some sense she did, because for 4 days she had to live with a bloke who was on the edge of tears but not able to actually get round to crying, who was preaching one thing to some people (“get it out, be real”) and then doing the opposite himself. Yes, there’s some sense that as Priests we need to carry those around us in prayer, to lift them to God and intercede for them. But we’re only human and burying a four year old is going to get to you. If you think you can just carry on without processing it, and processing it sooner rather than later, then you’re sadly mistaken.
So yes, God did carry me on Wednesday, but then he said “Let me carry your emotions now” and I said “No thanks, I’ll manage them myself” having just told everyone to do the opposite. But thanks to God for pulling me through it, and thanks to Gayle for putting up with me in the meantime. Gotta love them all.