The Sound of Grief

I don’t know if it will ever make sense to me how one moment I can be smiling, laughing and content, and the next suddenly find myself transported to some place that’s like a dark, shadowy pit, and hearing someone cry out like a psych ward patient, only to realize… the cry is coming from me. This is the sound of grief. ImageThat’s not the only sound grief makes, but in those moments that’s all I can think about. The wailing… that’s what grief sounds like. For me it often feels like an out of body experience. But almost within the same thought, I remind myself that this is a very present, very real reality that I can’t escape.

These moments of overwhelming grief from the loss of my parents- my dad from MS when I was 19 and my mom in six short months from breast cancer when I was 27- is not something I can truly describe. Maybe it’s like having your heart in a vice, or having your heart suddenly fill with stones, or having a rope tied around it with an anchor hanging off of it, or having the anchor hanging off it while it’s in a vice and filled with stones. And I wind up sometimes on the floor, feeling heavy like my body is some sort of sentient bag of stones. That is the weight of sorrow. In these moments, if I’m not gasping for air between near-uncontrollable wails, I’m reminding myself to breathe.

Sometimes I feel it coming on slow and steady, and other times I’m literally going about my day one minute and flat on the floor in grief in an instant. But I have to fight- I force myself to feel the grief, no matter how deep it goes. If I don’t, it’ll eat me alive some other way. I’ll start to run and I’ll never stop, and I’ll maybe manage to stay a few steps ahead of it but I’ll always be running. I’ll never be free. No, the only freedom comes from facing it, in going through that fire, in having the courage to go endure the catharsis in order to reach healing at the other end.

So I wail. I cry out to God. I let the memories of my beloved parents come to me. This time they’re slow at first, each a few seconds long, allowing me to take in the moments I’m recalling… these memories that have become treasures… But then I remember a painful memory- and suddenly it all speeds up. It doesn’t take long for them to come at me faster and faster until they overwhelm me in flashes like film that’s fallen off a reel. And I wail. I listen to the sounds I never thought a human could make. It’s hard to believe I’m making this sound, but I acknowledge them as mine. This is the sound of my grief. My grief. My own. Only I can feel my grief. And I cry out to God. I’m at the end of myself and can’t go any further. My mind spins wildly, and I cover my head with my hands but I can’t slow it down. The wailing continues and I struggle to breathe. My bones rattle inside my body and I want to crawl out of my skin. …..God, please take this. I’ve come to the end of myself.

Although there’s no telling how long the moment will be once it’s begun, eventually the grief subsides. Eventually the moment decrescendos. It’s often like a symphony with all its movements, ebbs and flows of intensity but never subsiding until it’s ready to.

And when it has, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. The overwhelm of grief is exhausting. And I’m numb. But another wave of grief has finally settled. If I haven’t already blacked out and fallen asleep, I can finally sleep now. I am completely spent. In my numbness I finally sleep.


About coralierose

I am 29 and live in Abbotsford, B.C. I'm a singer/songwriter, hiker, cook, lover of my friends and family, and I love the God of the Bible. I've learned that life might feel like a rollercoaster but I can trust in its Designer. Expect change and you'll be ready to change right along with it.
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4 Responses to The Sound of Grief

  1. It is most definately hard to lose peopl you care about. Especially when you were close to your parents. God popped a verse into my head while I was reading this article. I will share it with you.

    Luke 23:26-28.

    When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus. And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him.But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.

    At one point in my life it seemed as though my extended family was dying off like flies in a bug zapper. It was rediculous. Being as young as I was I didn’t know how to handle it. Well finally one day I remember my Great Uncle had passed away. He was the one that helped my dad get on his feet and introduced my parents in the first place, if I remember correctly. We went to the funeral and one of the speakers said this what I’m about to type, and I never forgot it. “Ed didn’t die, he is more alive now being with Christ than he was when he was in this body. We should celebrate.” Never again did I allow death to bring me down. What am I worried about. When we die we leave the realm of time and everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen no longer applies. We all as brothers and sisters will have finished the race. As hard as that is to imagine, we can not think outside the realm of time so still another reason to not worry. If Jesus our King with thornes out of his head, stripes on his back, willing to go to the cross to die for our sins especially when he didn’t have to and at the drop of a word could have had hords of angels save him, says not to cry, why would we cry about anything else?

    ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

    Jeremiah 29:11-14

    The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

    Martin Luther King Jr.

    • coralierose says:

      Thanks very much for your comment and for sharing your story. I’m always encouraged by others’ stories of how the gospel has impacted them and helped them in confusing or tragic circumstances.

      However, I disagree with your interpretation of Luke 22’s verses. You say if Jesus our King says not to cry, why would we cry about anything else? He’s not saying to not cry in that passage. Yes, he’s maybe saying not to mourn for him in his impending death here (I don’t actually even know that for sure having not researched it). But his greater point is what they SHOULD be weeping over which is illustrated in the verses that follow, which, according to the commentary in my Bible, is the destruction of the city of Jerusalem.

      I fully acknowledge and proclaim the hope that we have and that you rightly stand in as believers in Jesus Christ. I completely agree with the statement made by the speaker at your great uncle’s funeral too. We do indeed have much to celebrate that your great uncle and both my parents are no longer suffering here but are now existent in the fullness of true life that is with God in heaven. But I also know the value and necessity of allowing myself to feel the painful part of grief when it comes. It doesn’t mean I believe in the promises of God pertaining to the afterlife any less. Quite the opposite is true for me. But rather, it simply means I don’t ignore the pain of grief that’s unique, real and can sometimes be very intense.

      While it’s hugely important that we understand as Christians that we can, and indeed OUGHT to rejoice in these truths (otherwise, what was the point of the cross?), it’s also hugely important that we understand that scripture acknowledges that sadness of grief happens and is not in the least condemned. It does so in the John 11 account of Jesus weeping in sympathy for, not condemning, the mourning family of Lazarus, and Matthew 5:4- “Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted”. This is the opposite of a condemnation.

      So while it’s wonderful that we as Christians have this hope, we ought to be very careful to allow others their moments of sadness, even of despair. We should allow them to feel the depth of grief in those moments when they’re missing their loved ones or whatever kind of grief they’re experiencing. We ought to come alongside them, love on them, play worship music, or pray over them. We must indeed always do these things to shoulder the burden with them, but we mustn’t make them feel guilty for the pain they’re in. Jesus didn’t do that with Lazarus’s family, AND he even knew that in a moment he would raise the man from the dead!

      • It’s not that I am offended or anything. I guess mourning and grief is something I haven’t quite grasped. It’s not like I haven’t felt loss or anything. I don’t put people down about what they go through. I genuinely don’t really do that. I don’t know why. I started asking those around me who have known me for years including my wife and they all say the same. I just don’t do that. Even before I started relied on the Word of God I really was never like that. Again I don’t know why. There is nothing wrong with mourning and grieving over a loss. I just don’t do it. I’m not sure why but I’m glad I read your article because this is another topic I can ask God for help on.

      • coralierose says:

        I have a few guy friends who don’t “seem” to grieve either. A good friend of mine lost his dad suddenly last October to a heart attack and he often doesn’t understand my emotions with grief. But it’s ok. Reactions to grief are as unique and varied as the people who are going through it are and there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. You’re not wrong for seeming to have little reaction to it and I’m not wrong for having very dark and difficult times. I appreciate your honesty though and I’m glad I could help!

        Blessings to you, brother!

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