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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…

November 4, 2011

As we rapidly approach the holiday period that includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, I feel compelled to write about loss.  It seems odd doesn’t it, that holidays and celebration would leave me thinking about the sadness that can surround us during our “happy” times.  What a contradiction that the very happiness we feel reminds us of the changes we have endured, and the people who will not be there to join us in the next joyous occasion.

Charles Dickens opened A Tale of Two Cities with:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, …

Dickens reminds us that our joy and sorrow coexist.  So, because the period from November 1 to January 2 is a strange mix of “the best of times” and “the worst of times”,  I will think out loud about what it means to step into a single moment of mourning loss and celebrating life.  Maybe that’s what Walter Wangerin intended when he titled his book, Mourning Into Dancing.  Maybe he wanted to help us find words to describe our experience with that thing so present, and so unspoken, death.

Death comes, and we grieve.  If Dickens had written about the contradiction of grief, he might have said,

Grief is an odd thing.  Reminder of our loss and the last connection between us and the person we loved.  Our numbing and our unspeakable pain.  Our tears and our rage. Grief feels like the enemy, while absorbing our time like a best friend.  At once universal and unique.

I believe there is power in our stories.  I believe there is healing and growth in our stories of loss.  I believe there is beauty, and yes, even celebration in sharing our stories.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiffani permalink
    November 15, 2011 5:09 pm

    This is so true. Thank you for writing 🙂

    • November 15, 2011 8:50 pm

      Thank you for reading and commenting. It has been touching to see how many are thinking out loud and talking together about the impact of loss on our lives.

  2. December 10, 2011 11:44 pm

    ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, …’

    These are the first lines to my mothers favorite book in high school. She loved Dickens.

    I lost her last week. Life is funny; connection, and words and grief all intermingled.

    Thank you for being here and for posting this. Reminders. They are good and hard and good.

    Peace, Jen

    • December 11, 2011 12:04 am

      Thank you, Jen. I’m sorry to hear that you lost your mother so recently. Our connections are a strange mixture of presence and absence, cycles of good and hard. Your post on forgiving your mother “in the moment” was such a rich texture, and so true.

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