Saturday, March 19, 2011

the grief scale (not)

How much pain is a ton?

Is there a measuring device for pain?

Rate your pain today on a scale of one to ten, one being least, ten being greatest.

What tips the scale of grief?

Is there even a scale for grief?

Loss of marriage < loss of child;  unloved and forsaken < terminally ill;  living the horror of abuse < picking up the pieces after the suicide of one you love.

As a society, don't we make mental notes as we observe the broken lives of humanity?  Johnny's pain is way worse than Susie's pain!  We need to flood Johnny with sympathy; but Susie needs to suck it up and get on with life.

How do I know that Susie's pain isn't great and crushing and almost more than she can bear?  What if it is?  What if, because of our unspoken but universally understood grief scale, Susie's pain got rated 0.6 on the grief scale of one to ten?

And then there's another whole encampment of pain: the unlucky souls who somehow find themselves in the They Deserved It part of our grief filing system. Desperately trying to make sense of a world gone wrong, we grasp for reasons.  For some people the reasons spring quickly to mind.  That's unfair.  You can be very sure that if a fault or failing in the life of a grieving person is not obvious to you, it is only because you don't know him well enough.

I've thought about this a lot over the past few weeks as I have been overwhelmed by all the pain in the lives of people around me. Is anyone's life easy?  I don't really think so.

We have been on the receiving end of a massive amount of attention and encouragement; a child's death isn't supposed to happen, and for that crushing reason, it seems society has marked our loss 9.5 on the little grief scale.

But there are lots and lots and lots of other things that aren't supposed to happen.

This week I remembered the story of Jairus' daughter.  She was twelve.  She was dying.  Jairus went to Jesus, Who has always been a Healer, always is a Giver, even in the darkest moments of life.  He fell at the feet of the Maker of his daughter and pleaded for her life.

While he was pleading, a woman who had been battling a bleeding disorder for twelve years reached out to touch the robe of Jesus.  Miraculously, incredibly, against all odds, she was instantly healed.

I think that Jesus' response to her is incredible.  He didn't send her away. 

He could have said  "Lady! Go see a specialist!  I am dealing with a dying child!  Surely you can understand that I am very much about giving life! Sorry, but later!"

He could have said "Oh, my, a bleeding disorder. . . did you live the way you should? Perhaps this is an STD and you totally deserve this."

He could have said "I'm sorry ma'am, but I'm busy with wayyyyyy more important things. Please, can we reschedule?"

He could have thought "I felt her touch me but I won't even stop and listen.  I need to get to this little dying girl."

But He didn't.  He stopped.  He wanted to see her, to know her.  He wanted her story.

Who touched Me?

And she came, trembling and scared.  Didn't she know that a dying child was more important? Of course she did, because two thousand years doesn't change human nature.  Of course she  didn't want to bother or be in the way of important stuff.

Here is the beauty of Jesus. . . He saw her.  She was important stuff. He didn't push her away.  He didn't rate her pain or mark her grief on a scale. He saw her faith, He saw her needs, He saw twelve years of unanswered questions and He cared.

She wasn't a bother to Him.  He healed.  He loved. He sent her away in peace.   

Jesus didn't leave Jairus needs unmet, either.   He heard the awful news.  He calmed the distraught father.  He walked the dusty streets.  He denied the power of the grave. He brought life where there was death.

That's what He is all about.   He brings clarity to the muddy waters of the whose grief is worse game that we love to play. He doesn't rate pain; instead He brings life when there is only death. 

Our minds only view death as death, and a beating heart as life.

But what if death is oppression and pain and bitter tears and no desire to live and regret and mistakes and deep scars and wounded hearts and shattered dreams?

And what if life is hope?

What if





  1. hailey. I wait for you to write. Every single time I walk away from my computer inspired by your words... and the songs you choose for your playlist. I often just come to your blog just to listen!!!

    thank-you for encouraging me once again... to remember others pain...

    May our God richly bless you!!

  2. You have such a gift in your writing. What a true perspective of our grief rating systems! What a pain filled and hurting world. I started hearing and realizing how much hurt and suffering was all around me, not long ago after coming from a place where I thought I had been the only one with hurts. You have a gift of putting it together and writing it to share. Thank you for being an encouragement.

  3. Hayley,
    Such truth right here. Such eye opening, convicting, challenging truth. The kind of truth that leaves me speechless and needing to come back and read it a few more times. Spend some time meditating on all that God is saying to me through your words...
    Thank you.

  4. Haley,
    Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts! They were such an encouragement for me to read. There is so much pain, grief and suffering in this fallen world. The way you worded this struck me and brought me to tears. Sometimes, I think personal experience with pain sensitizes one to others' pain.

  5. You are such a gifted writer. I really appreciate the thoughts you've shared... such convicting and important truths that I need to be reminded of often.. Thank you.

  6. I always check to see if you have written every time I get on. Your words show your feelings and they make everyone else feel too. If that made sense. You are inspiring. Your strength is incredible. You are a beautiful soul.

  7. Hi... I don't know you, but ran across your blog and almost cried! As I read your recent posts and also way back to when you lost your little Gabe. My heart sympathizes with you, greatly! As I have 4 little girls, of which the littlest just turned 1 year. And I can't even begin to imagine losing her. My heart aches with you and while reading your blog I realized anew just how special our little ones are. I wanna hold mine close forever. Said a prayer for you today:)