Understanding Doesn’t Erase It…

No matter what I understand about stress and grief and trauma, the understanding does not erase its reality.

Understanding alone does not give me freedom.

I still have to work through the muck. Albeit, it does help to understand.

Grief and trauma aren’t like injuries. They are injuries.

I never understood the physical reality of grief as an injury as well as I understand it now. I peel back the layers every day, and still there are more.

Grief is a uniquely human wound.

Even understanding the anticipatory grief packaged with John’s terminal illness did not prepare me for the eventual reality of his death. It did not prepare me for this side of the trauma. We soldiered on through the brutality of his fight for life, because John and I faced things together. No matter how gritty, our family faced everything together. And we had hope for a cure.

Now… that hope has exited stage left, as has John. And now he’s not here to stare down his son’s own cancer with us too.

Grief cripples, even when you understand. Even when you seek balance in all things. You are not “you” for awhile. Maybe you never will be.

“Faith” that I’ll see John again in spirit does not erase the physical reality I face every day. It does not erase the wounds of our trauma together. It does not remove the flood at my knees or the fight at my door.

While no one can take over my burden for me, my friends and family can cushion the pointy-ness, salve the pain, steady me when I falter and stumble. Hold my hair back as I vomit from this Life’s kick in the gut.

No one has ever thrived alone. Human history is proof of this, over and over again. The world’s sacred texts are filled with example after example. Nature also teaches us this. We can survive alone, but we do not thrive. And we don’t heal from mortal wounds without assistance, from God or otherwise.

Like any piercing physical ailment, grief and trauma require recovery and healing. Avoidance does not erase the reality of it nor the need for working through it, any more than a broken leg can be pretended away. But neither does justification or comprehension remove the reality either.

While many things are affected and even created by belief alone, some things cannot be simply unmade through knowledge and recognition. And while choices have consequences, not all “consequences” have choices.

Sometimes, the task set upon us is unfair and without cause.

Understanding alone doesn’t do the work or walk the path of Life. It merely assists in our perspective. We still must face and work with the actual reality.

Perspective and applied understanding help us transmute. And transmutation of the spirit is why we’re here. To be reborn with every conscious effort, ever seeking the Path, even when obscured by tragedy. Even when we feel alone and blind with pain.

We are not robots and we are not God. I may be a part of God, a part of the family of God, or even part of the Great Network as I understand it, but I am not the sum of Creator. And yet, even my Creator God feels. Even Jesus cried out on the cross.

Christ understood far more about the universe and spiritual reality than we can comprehend. And yet when Lazarus died, whom He was about to raise from the dead – “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) 

Knowing everything he knew, knowing that Lazarus would return to life, knowing God and the nature of the universe and our connection, Jesus was overcome with emotion and cried for the friend he loved.

How could I be expected to perform “better” than that?

Life is in the Overcoming.

And some tasks are more difficult than others.


June 25th, 2018
by Julia Meek Chambers
All rights reserved.




Filed under Grief, Random Thoughts, Widowhood, Writing

9 responses to “Understanding Doesn’t Erase It…

  1. You don’t tell us what John’s terminal illness is and how he is coping with it or how long he has to live. Certainly this is terribly traumatic for the both of you.

  2. Our 19 year old son was diagnosed with kidney cancer in January. It’s been a whirlwind. The kids and I are finally trying to get some grief counseling in over the summer. It takes time.

  3. Nancy Dickerson

    Ah, Julia. Thank you for sharing this with me and with those in Common Sense and Happiness. You have stated so well some of the things that are so familiar to me right now. If it had not been for Jennifer and Lance, I could not have even begun to get through the first trials of Hanan’s death–much less the complete shutdown I was beginning to have by the time Jenn came and took me home with her. It’s been five months now and I still cry so easily even trying to control my thoughts and feelings. It is going to take time, but I have been getting the help I need, too. May you and your children be blessed with the help you need.

  4. Kathleen

    It is always good to read your words, and to sense the deep thought and processing you are doing. I send you thoughts of love and strength and new hope. I am sorry for the pain and fear your family has endured, and pray you will find ease as you work through the deep wounds of your losses. I hope your son is doing okay, and that his prognosis is good, and that all of you are finding safe resting places in the new landscape you must live in. I am glad you have a loving community to hold and support you, and hope that the care and love from strangers adds to that.

    • Thank you Kathleen! Our son’s first MRIs take place in August. It won’t be a complete picture of how things stand for his future, but it will be helpful when we get there. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unknowns because his cancer is very rare, more rare than John’s was. And it’s unheard of for someone under the age of 20 to get it. And to get it without having any other health issues even under the age of 30. Not to mention the speedy growth rate his tumor exhibited. So… he’s an anomaly in nearly every possible way, with a young immune system that acts differently than the vast majority of the data set for this cancer (over age 60). The Fuhrman Scale doesn’t even apply to this cancer either, so his youth isn’t even a factor in survivability. We just do what we can and push for more research. As everyone says – no one can say what the future holds. ❤❤

  5. Kelly

    Wow. Just wow. ❤️ You

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