A robot vacuum cleaner is one of the greatest inventions ever, especially if you have a dog that sheds. It wanders around your house learning your furniture placement and vacuums in places that you can’t reach picking up dirt and dog hair when you are not even home!
I’m always amazed when I empty one of these things as to the amount of dirt and hair it has picked up. I had no clue the house was this dirty but seeing it one place is certainly eye opening.
I think this is how grief works. We go through our days noticing little things, like the smell of chocolate cookies baking, putting chips on a paper plate, making peanut and jelly sandwiches, and calling children in for lunch. Each piece evokes memories of my grandmother and they begin to accumulate. After days, months, of accumulating these memories we are filled up and it’s important to find a place to empty this accumulation of emotion.
I got a call once from an angry parishioner who spent their (I use the pronouns they, their, them to mask their identity) time talking to me about how lousy their contractor was. Why call your priest to complain about your contractor? I asked how they were doing with the death of their spouse. They were not doing well. The grief had accumulated and had manifested itself in anger at the contractor. They needed to open themselves up and clean out the strands of grief that had accumulated through time, been vacuumed up, and buried inside of them. If we don’t clean out the grief, it will accumulate such a build up that we will stop working just like the Robot vacuum cleaner stops when it is full.
It can be hard to share our grief. We need to find the right person who is willing to be present to our feelings of sadness. Naming our grief, telling stories, and sharing our sadness is the only way to empty ourselves so the grief is allowed out in a healthy way.
Whenever I over react about something, it is a red flag. This morning I got extremely upset because I missed an appointment. I felt like my whole life was out of control. Classic over reaction. I had to dig down to figure out what my emotions were really about and I figured it out. It was some grief that had been accumulating and needed to be cleaned out.
Holy Week contains liturgies that can bring up our grief which is why there are not a lot of people who go to Good Friday service. Letting ourselves feel the emotions of the moment, the enormous sadness of the loss of Jesus on the cross can be the way we open ourselves up and let out our own accumulation of collected moments. We live in that moment of grief and sadness through the void of Holy Saturday until the first fire of the Easter Vigil creates a light to lead us beyond our grief.
The best place to grieve is within a community centered around the love of God shown to us in the death of Jesus on the cross. We can open up and be emptied.