The contradiction of the inevitable

Life is not without pain.

Indeed, without pain there could be no celebration. We cannot know what light is unless we have known darkness. There is no sweetness in victory but for the pain of preparation and training. The pain of pregnancy and childbirth give way to the celebration of a new life.

Challenging times come to us all. Death, after all, is part of this life, the “inevitable statistic” some have called it.

Sunlight behind a gravestone

I recently attended both the graveside funeral and the thanksgiving service for a dear family friend. The first was low-key, family and close friends huddled round the coffin as the autumn rains fell. Hearts were heavy and umbrellas held aloft could not keep our eyes dry. Yet there was gratitude; a man who had lived a full and inspiring life was now free from his suffering.

At the thanksgiving service well over 300 people celebrated the life of one that had lived well and changed the lives of many. There was laughter and joyful singing, but not at the expense of tears; there were many more tears.

Candy had been unable to join me at either of the services. How could I share with her what I was feeling? I could barely begin to recount the experience I had been through that day. Emotions and memories of the past 37 years came at me relentlessly. I was unable to provide her with any window into my thinking – I wasn’t even sure what I was thinking much of the time…

The most logical and methodical of people have emotions, even if you wouldn’t know it from looking at them. Yes we can suppress emotions, to numb the pain of the past, but eventually they will surface, somewhere. Somewhere safe. Or, if not, may be somewhere else… blood pressure, gastric problems, muscular tension or a host of other possibilities.

I am grateful that Candy is giving me the time and space to reflect, and listens as-and-when I am able to share what’s going on inside my head. Oh how much easier it would be if we could just do a data download, imparting everything in one go. But we are not computers. We are relational. It is in the safe sharing of our deepest emotions that we can forge friendships that stand the test of time.

Then, when we have done with the pain, we will be free to move on and celebrate the good.

What about you?

Are you a “safe place” for your spouse? Do you allow those closest to you the space to think and a listening heart when it’s needed?

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