It has been over 5 weeks since Mack passed and while I have posted about one or two other items besides our grief I think you can understand why it is a topic that will be with us for a while.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of grieving is that there is nothing to do about the situation. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I am used to problems or circumstances where there is at least something I can do to mitigate the situation. If we have a leaky skylight I can get up on the roof and put some roof cement to patch it until we can redo the whole thing. If I child is sick we give her medicine, take her to the doctor, care for her.
But our son is simply gone.
We cannot help him and there is nothing we can do to rectify the situation. He is gone.
So what do we say in the face of this loss? A lot and nothing. When I announced that Mack had died I said, “There are not words that can comfort or theology that can accommodate such loss.” That is not completely true. Elizabeth and I have been greatly comforted by the presence, through writing, phone calls, and personal visits, from so many. We have even found some support and encouragement in certain writings about grief. It is not so much the words that bring comfort, as it is the people who bring the words to us. And while I have rejected various theological (or quasi-theological-poor-piety) explanations, I still continue to pray, read, and write about where God and our faith can be found in this tragedy.
I have expended a lot of words, especially considering I have said that there is nothing to say.
And what is there to do? In the short 5 weeks we have seen the community raise close to $100,000 for Mack’s scholarship. In the week following the funeral, thanks to incredible efforts by Todd Hoffard, Penn State Athletics, and PSU Men’s and Women’s Soccer we had an incredible soccer clinic for over 140 kids that raised a further $4,000 for the scholarship. The Philadelphia Union has offered to host us and Mack’s team for their June 23 game against the NY Red Bulls and will have special ticket rates for those in central PA to raise funds for the scholarship.
We are pretty busy considering there is nothing we can do.
And that is the point that Rabbi Kushner (When Bad Things Happen to Good People), Westberg, and others make. We cannot affect the past but we can determine our response to it and in so doing we create our future.
35 thoughts on “Nothing to say, nothing to do”
I had a useless, nontheological, profound moment of despair on your and Elizabeth’s behalf today. Just a kind of stop-in-my-tracks WHAT ON EARTH moment, gnawing and voidish. I realize this comment is not terribly comforting–we all want to offer something better–but I feel compelled to share it anyway. Even at the meeting last night I could tell you know everyone wants to encircle you and your family. I thought the mayor was going to tackle you. It was sweet, but bittersweet. It’s good you have a place to put these words, and we are all here to share them–to share this. Which is all to say you bet we can understand. I am (we are all) still so sorry.
Thank you all for your continued support and love. It makes an incredible difference in our lives to know that so many are thinking of us and caring for us.
We are thinking about you today. I just read “Good Grief” by Thomas Lynch for class, and I have the Brady family on my mind. Thank you for including us all in your journey. I love that when there is nothing to do, God gives us something to write. Bravo!
Heather, I had not see Lynch’s work. I was referring to Good Grief by Granger Westberg.
Christian, I want to say something comforting and something that gives you all of the hope and happiness in the world. But then I think of my son (he just turned 7 months) and I have no idea what I would do if he were to pass away. I’m crying right now just thinking of it, thinking of what you’re going through. Thinking of what it must be like to look at that fort your son built (the one with the Christmas lights on it) and it tears me apart. Thinking of just looking at my little boy and seeing the pure innocence in him…. and then thinking “what if that were all gone from me?”. I have no clue what to say but I want to say something. I want so bad for you to feel hope.
I don’t know what to say, so I’ll just say what I hope. I hope Jesus is holding your son right now. I hope your son has so much joy and so much perspective on all of this that there’s not even the possibility for him to be scared, afraid, or alone. I hope you find a peace on this side of life that few have ever experienced. I hope to be there for the moment when you embrace your son again. And I hope that moment washes away all of the pain.
God bless you.
Kushner’s book has helped Elizabeth and me quite a bit. Kushner does NOT take that approach at all, rather his view is the same I put forward earlier on my blog http://targuman.org/blog/2013/01/12/the-will-of-god/ This world is broken, illness and pain are a part of it. God does not desire it for us yet I think gives us grace to cope with it.