Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Grief Journal: The Transitive Relation of Grief

One of the few things I remember from high school math is transitive relationship.  It's normally expressed: "If a = b and b = c, then a = c.

Human emotions are not so precise, of course.  But each loss holds echoes of previous losses.  My brother's death reminds me of Padre's death, of Wanda's death, of Robin's death, and on and on back to that first loss, the death of our maternal grandfather, Samuel H.  This loss reminds me of how my brother-in-law, my wife's youngest sibling, died about three months prior to his mother.  Both had been in the Navy, so the Navy hymn was sung at both funerals.  There was a period of about two years during which I could not sing that hymn because I got so choked up.

It may be a blessing there will be no funeral for my brother.  He was in the Marines, a branch of the Navy.  And hearing the Navy Hymn once more in this context would tear my heart like the temple curtain. 

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
its own appointed limits keep:
O hear us when we cry to thee
for those in peril on the sea.

‘No man is an island,› saith the poet. Just so, no grief stands alone.

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