Tears of grief can water seeds of life
January 18th, 2006 - 5:54 AM PST
By Mary Regina Morrell
“Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy. Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.” Psalm 126
When I left the office yesterday, I hadn’t noticed how overcast the sky was. My head was cast down as I walked to my car. I didn’t even notice the car backing out of its parking spot as I started to step off the curb.
My co-worked rolled down her window and called my name, “Mary, you look so sad. I’ve never seen you look like that before.”
I could only smile to assure her I was fine and she drove off. Certainly, it was not the time or place to tell her I had just lost a friend – a childhood sweetheart.
He had taken his own life, and time since then had become a black hole of should haves, could haves, would haves.
In my mind, I was handling it fine, but my body wouldn’t be fooled so easily. Every cell had absorbed the loss and the pain and I was beginning to crumble. Nausea was my constant companion. Fatigue made my body ache for sleep.
How could I have missed the signs, I wondered in anguish. The words of his letters reeled in my head, a sharing of his life, pictures of his family, the prospects and disappointments of his police work., encouragement through my own depression, his closings: “Love ya, Kiddo!”
Why didn’t I read between the lines?
But in truth, the trouble with letters and email is you can never see the friend behind the words, their face, their eyes, their body language, even the sighs in their voice. They are hidden, and people contemplating suicide are consummate at the craft of hiding their intentions.
My own journey and education has taught me that suicide is almost always the result of a mental illness like depression, and I have learned enough about this agonizing behavior to know, intellectually, that even if I had made the trip to visit him as I had planned, I would not have been able to correct a lifetime of pain or loss or physical illness that had led him to this place.
But the intellect does not always rule the emotions, so I will continue to grieve and feel as though I could have been a better friend. But I will also turn, once again, to prayer so that my grief does not lie fallow or damage my spirit. One bout with depression is enough.
There is no better place to turn for prayer than to the Psalms. Here there seems to be a prayer for every emotion, joy or pain known to humankind. One prayer in particular has always strengthened me and helped me keep my heart turned toward the future. It is Psalm 126 that has those beautiful words, “Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy….”
This is a prayer, wrote author Douglas Twitchell, that helps us recall that, “Life here on this earth, amidst the anguish and struggle against evil, is not lived from joy to joy, or from pain to pain; it is a side by side journey of grief and joy, sorrow and laughter. A bitter-sweet road from birth to grave. But the promise of the psalmist keeps us from giving up.”
It is a prayer that also reminds us that we must continue to live while we grieve, we must continue to sow the seeds of life and hope and faith as we water them with our tears.
I pray that God will give me the strength to do what I know I should because my friend sowed many seeds of joy in my life while we shared it and I want to do no less for him in death.
Mary Morrell is the author of Angels in High Top Sneakers from Loyola Press.
Contact: Diocese of Metuchen