Friday, September 23, 2011

On Bereavement and Other Injustices

There’s a way in which we “get over it” when we lose someone we love; and there’s another way in which we do not, cannot, should not and do not want to get over it.

We get over it in the sense that we stop letting it interfere with whatever’s left of our lives. We accept not death itself – never. Never! For death is the enemy! It is not acceptable that we should simply wink out of existence and go into oblivion forever and ever! – but we accept that what has happened has happened and there’s nothing we can do about it. (And even this acceptance, if it is genuine, is only possible without deluding or disfiguring our inner selves, within the context of the Resurrection.) We learn to make the best instead of the worst of the new situation. We learn to carry on. If the deceased was our spouse, we may even re-marry, and do so knowing that our loved one would approve.

But there’s this other sense in which we never just get over it. Things are never the same again and there’s no use trying to pretend otherwise.

And it’s the like that with other evils, too. Some of them we just should not necessarily forget. Do we forget Judas? Do we forget what Pontius Pilate did? Herod? Salome? Jezebel? Ha, the Church doesn'teven forget Arius! There are some evils it just is not right to forget. And it would not be right to forgive them, either, if forgiveness meant pretending something never happened (or, heaven forbid, that what happened is somehow now okay). But forgiveness means keeping on loving not because we blot out what happened or need to blot it out. That kind of “love”, the kind that simply buries wrongs, is better than hatred, which is why we urge people to do it; but it isn’t yet divine love. No, if our love is to be a participation in God’s, it will be strong enough to need neither blindness nor pretense; true Love will look wrongs squarely in the eye and go right on loving because nothing can deter it, or rather, Him. True Love is unconditional.

Death is like that, too. I mean we shouldn’t simply put it out of mind or pretend it doesn’t exist or spend our lives trying to deny it. There’s just this sense in which it would be downright disloyal to “get over it” and we shouldn’t. That’s why we have memorials for the departed, year after year. Just as we can and should face wrongs done to us on without bitterness, because of Love, so we also can and should face death without fear or grief, on account of the Resurrection.

P.S. It occurs to me that someone may suppose these thoughts have been inspired by the rift with my brother-in-law, so I hasten to add, it isn’t so. Anyway, he never did us any great injury; it was more a case of his believing we had injured him. In fact, Christos now seems to be trying hard to repair the relationship with both Demetrios and me.