The need for certainty

 photo by  Meredith Winn

photo by Meredith Winn

There was a time when my energy was channeled into simply surviving, but I am no longer in a place of desperate, exhaustive, emotionally-grinding pain. Still, the lingering effects of grieving are ever-present, morphed into a nearly obsessive mental and spiritual quest for truth and power and serenity. I wouldn’t have expected it, but losing my child has deconstructed nearly every previously held spiritual conviction.

I’m left alone someplace between belief and disbelief, caught in the middle of denouncing the popular version of how and why the world works as it does, and creating my own explanation of something… else.

I’ve unpacked my entire belief system. Every day, I examine previously-held opinions against a new and more open, unbiased mind. I carefully examine it from all angles, attempt to solve it with something satisfactory, but end up with nothing. My world had been taking place within the context of a safe haven where everything made sense. Then it was blown to tiny unrecognizable pieces. 'They' wanted me to be okay with that, to put the pieces together again and make it work.

Every day I’d trudge to the mailbox, preparing myself to be both momentarily uplifted and unintentionally wounded by the printed words and pen strokes on sympathy cards. I had an overwrought, anxious, neurotic mind—and rightfully so. The common theme of well-meaning notes was a narrative of accepting an all-powerful God's mysterious plan with as much grace as they appeared to have. Sure, they were sad for me. But not too sad.

Even if it were true, I wanted her here. She’d never have her first birthday, learn to read, fight with her brothers, or teach me what it means to have a daughter. Earth is pretty wonderful—particularly as experienced through an uneventful childhood. It’s beautiful and amazing and pure and sweet and full of wonder.

Was she formed in my womb with purpose? Is God responsible only for good, but not bad? Does she have a soul that lives on, or not? Is her death simply a result of a biological mistake? I don’t know, I can’t know, and I won’t pretend to know. There are no facts here. Only beliefs.

I don’t need certainty anymore, but I do miss it. I miss when everything made sense. I miss the time when my worldview matched the cozy, predictable corner of the world I had grown to love as truth.

Living outside the bubble is both exciting and persistently exhausting, but I can only hope to find peace living in a world of grey, in which nuance is appreciated and compassion for all that I don’t yet understand is of the utmost importance.

I wish I could return. I wish I could hold my healthy would-be one-year-old, turning off the unknowable questions and unquenchable search for WHY. There would be no need to ponder suffering and pain against blessings and favour. We’d just be doing everyday things... going to Target and the park, and posting gummy smiles to Facebook.

But that’s not me, and that’s not my story. I can have my convictions and hold onto them with everything in me, but I am still a small person leading a small life, and I am not certain. So I ask, and I search, and I stay open with a humble gratitude for the options, and indifference towards my lack of certainty. It’s freeing, and it's terrifying.

Were you in a bubble, before loss? Do you miss it? Has loss expanded or contracted your spirituality?