the natural word, graylag geese become desperately
distressed if they are separated from each other.
The goose moves about restlessly by day and night,
flying great distances and visiting places where the
partner might be found, continuously making its
penetrating, tri-syllabic, long-distance call . . .
The searching expeditions are extended farther and
farther, and quite often the searcher itself gets
lost, or succumbs to an accident.
You may never have compared yourself to
a goose, but if you have lost a precious friend or partner, the
chances are that you will relate to the distress geese go through
when deprived of their mate. Intense yearning in the aftermath of
loss is an integral part of our quest to make sense of life as we
now experience it. Colin Murray Parkes defines pining as,
||A persistent and
obtrusive wish for the person who is gone;
a preoccupation with thoughts that can only give pain.11
So many of our thoughts and feelings,
as well as our actions, have been mentally directed to or around a
particular person, and if they are no longer there to receive them,
it is hardly surprising that we should feel like a ship that has
been holed beneath the waterline, and that has been cast adrift on
an uncertain sea.
Since we are unable to do what we
most want to do, which is to spend time with the person we most want
to be with, why be surprised if our subconscious continues to pine,
as if the very intensity of our emotions could somehow rewrite
reality. Grief is, as C. S. Lewis described it, a “suspense:” from
the first hint that something is wrong through all that lies beyond.
This phase of searching and pining
may well last a year or more. In its early stages, we are likely to
experience many sharp “peaks” of grief, followed by an almost
overwhelming series of rolling “waves.” These will decrease with the
passing of time – though often very slowly.
Tempted though we may be to feel
“past hope, past cure and past help” (to quote Alexander Pope’s
trenchant words) it is always wise to direct our “searching” upwards
to the Lord, rather than constantly backwards to what we have lost.
Although nobody can ever fully replace the person or project we have
lost, there is no reason, God willing, why we should not eventually
experience what the truth of John Ruskin’s comment that “When the
Lord closes a door, He opens a window.”