everyone’s heard of the stages of grief as described by kubler-ross:
they seem so self-evident when you see someone go through the pain of the death of a loved one.
but i noticed last night that i was cycling through a mini version of these stages, faced with the pain associated with the rape of the teenage daughter of a friend of mine (which happened yesterday, in full daylight, in the parking lot of a target store).
after a blindingly quick “no, please tell me that didn’t really happen” hope that the initial report wasn’t accurate (denial), anger was clearly the initial response. i suppose that’s also somewhat tied to my choleric personality. i suppose, to some extent, anything that’s clearly out of my control can bring a response of anger. that sounds pretty crappy, i realize; but it’s probably true to one extent or another. i’ve been learning to notice that initial response in me and address it quickly — not stuff it, but address it for what it is, just a reaction, and not reality, and not usually worthy of acting on.
normally the ‘bargaining’ stage is described in personal terms (“i’ll try to be better…”), i found this showed up in my a more legal way: i spent a bit of thought time trying to wrestle with why god allows crap like this to happen. back to my ‘problem of evil’ problem. a little job-like cross-examination of god on the witness stand. of course, that doesn’t get me anywhere. and, ultimately, i do believe that god was and is grieving over this pain alongside me and my friends. but there’s that lingering tension between my belief that god could have intervened, but god rarely does intervene. the ‘helpful counsel’ that we’re just not aware of how often god does intervene isn’t very helpful in a situation like this.
unresolved on bargaining, knowing there’s not likely to be a deeply satisfactory resolve to those questions during my life on earth, i quickly slid into the depression stage. again, i can see how this is tied to my personality. the awareness of my complete lack of ability to exert control over a situation often leads to a modified state of depression. i’m not talking ‘clinical depression’ here: more like deep frustration, or exasperation.
and that’s where i sit this morning. the cycle was pretty quick up to this point, but no acceptance yet.
on the way home from the hospital, the girl asked her parents if they could stop by our house to have me pray for her. i was blown away that she asked for this. i believe, in fact i know, that god was present with us in that time. our hugging and tears and prayers and love for one another is what the body of christ is supposed to do in the face of pain. and a little sliver of hope kicked in: hope for healing, hope for protection (that one’s difficult, i admit, but i hold onto it), hope for justice.