I miss my ordinary grief.
My father died five years ago and I miss the days when the only mourning I needed to contend with was his loss, when I could dwell solely on the searing pain of his absence.
It was difficult enough back then to try and martial all my energies to bear the weight of that single catastrophic death and how different everything now was. At least then I could focus and attempt to wrap my mind around the unthinkable attrition. It made sense to grieve such things.
This is something unnatural.
Lately I find that my heart’s attentions are divided, now that there is so much to mourn over in each day. The act of simply waking up means witnessing a loud parade of grievous things:
Another legislative assault.
Another manufactured crisis.
Another breaking bit of bad news.
Another cellphone-captured fast food restaurant racist rant.
Another fear-fueled televangelist’s empty crusade against already marginalized people.
Another wave of MAGA trolls spewing toxic filth from behind anonymous handles.
Another infantile, all-caps Presidential tweet tantrum littered with lies and spelling errors.
And with all of these new violations of decency—come confirmation of how broken we are, of the ways in which we are relationally dying, of the cavernous divides that have recently appeared. We look around and we realize the scale of the collective sickness.
The evidence arrives in the vile tweets of strangers, in incendiary break room comments at work, in overheard cruel comments in the checkout line, in increasingly violent family gathering diatribes. It comes as we see people we once felt an easy affinity with—become people we only desire distance from.
These hourly notifications announce separation and estrangement and disconnection between us and those we know and love and live alongside.
We look at our nation and our families and our neighborhoods and it all brings with it grief; not figuratively or metaphorically grief, either—but genuine loss at what feels like a death. Each day here starts to feel like another 24-hour funeral.
We shouldn’t be grieving continually like this, we shouldn’t be perpetually lamenting newly appearing fractures, and we shouldn’t need to constantly defend ourselves from the wounds inflicted by those entrusted with leading us.
It’s such wasted energy.
We all need time to grieve the normal things: the infinite space created by the people we love who have left this life, the sadness of the world without them, the adjustments we’re trying to make.
We need to grieve marriages that have dissolved and children we’ve lost and diagnosis we’ve been handed and parents we’re now missing.
We need the space to dwell on these personal tragedies because they’re more than enough to level us on their own.
This life gives us enough to mourn over, without any help. It’s a shame we have to divert so much energy to these other unnecessary deaths—to predatory Presidents and sham leaders—and to the myopic sycophants around us blindly worshiping them.
One day this will be over and we can get back to mourning the regular collateral damage of living and losing.
I don’t want to grieve the condition of my country but I do.
I don’t want to lament the families who’ve abandoned sense, but I am.
I don’t want to be sickened by the silence of my former church friends, but I am.
I don’t want to mourn the boundless cruelty of our leadership, but I do.
I want to grieve normal things again.
We all do.
Originally Published on JohnPavlovitz.com
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