I have been watching the Danish thriller, The Killing, continuing my exploration of Continental dramas with subtitles. What has particularly impressed me has been the acting of Bjarne Henriksen, who plays the father of the murdered girl. Whether or not he turns out to be involved, I know not, but the way he has dealt with the emotion of grief has been impressive. On Sunday, I watched the latest episode of Garrow's Law on BBC1 where Garrow says that he understands what a woman feels who has just lost her father. She protests that no-one could. But Garrow has just been bereaved of his friend and fellow-lawyer, Southouse, and is able to eloquently describe the feelings of grief.
The words sounded familiar and, of course they are very reminiscent of Shadowlands, the story of the bereavement of CS Lewis, when his wife Joy died. I recommend both versions, either with Anthony Hopkins or Joss Ackland. Both are based on the little book "A Grief Observed" finally published posthumously under his own name. "A Grief Observed comprises the reflections of the great scholar and Christian apologist on the death of his wife after only a few short years of marriage. Painfully honest in its dissection of his thoughts and feelings, this is a book that details his paralysing grief, bewilderment and sense of loss in simple and moving prose." says the blurb and it is very accurate.
In The Killing, the Lutheran Pastor makes the crass statement to the mother of the murdered girl, "At least she is now with the Angels." To which the mother angrily replies, "She shouldn't be with the Angels; she should be with me!" It ill betides any doctor or Pastor to meddle with a person's grief.
Very few doctors or pastors have no trouble with their own mortality. I know the Scriptures on this, and I had my moment of reconciliation with God more than 35 years ago when my father died, but I felt the pastoral counselling that I received then pretty useless.
I know a few old ladies who grieve terribly for their lost husbands of more than 30 years ago. It would be easy to say that they should put it aside now. That if theirs was a true faith that they would lost that burden at the foot of the cross, but I would never make that judgment. People are always different. There were many who waited for that long and longer for Jesus to take away that burden.
Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, had lived with her husband for seven years and then was a widow until she was 84. She never left the Temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying, waiting for the Christ Child.
Grief is unpredictable and although wew can remember to give a sympathetic hug, very few of us can find the correct form of gentle words to assuage it.