April 20, 2011

The Society Of the Suffering

Every day we’re astounded by our sudden strange and intimate connection with those who have experienced loss. There are those in our inner circle who have experienced this sort of sorrow in the past. Others outside of our circle have shared their own tragedies and each story seems to trigger these unexpected feelings of intimacy and empathy. Even the grief of the people we’ve only heard of seems to move us. All of these people and their stories suddenly mean something more, as if there is this alternate reality out there, this society of people who have learned to find normalcy and harmony within the grief. These people, near and far, dead and alive, are like magnets that keep drawing us in. Their stories call to us, asking for our brokenness and sadness, inviting us to share in the pain together, and in doing so, they weave our shared pain into this complicated and beautiful tapestry of grief.

These people look at us differently, with deep pools of understanding in their eyes. They’re not afraid of grief or death or freak accidents or confusion. They have a quiet strength about them. They are resilient. They have sure foundations. Somehow they have made peace with their own losses and become fuller human beings, more capable of love and empathy. They remind us that while death is no stranger and though life is not certain, hope remains.

We joined this society of the suffering not by choice. It would have been nice if death could have passed us by, if we could have lived a little while longer without this deep sorrow, but here we are.

Life is fragile.
Death comes when you least expect it.
A dozen different decisions on March 24 could have prevented the accident.
Kari did fall.
Margot did die.
And grief hangs over us.

My hope is that eventually we can become like those we have joined.


Unknown said...

"hope remains"...

well said, Josh.

ASHER said...

perfectly put josh. love you both.

Unknown said...

Beautiful post Josh. After Diet's close call, and now living in the shadow of a "chronic disease", a nurse told us life would be normal again, never the same, but a new type of normal. It took over a year. Thinking of you guys. Cathy

Unknown said...

Josh and Kari, The days ahead will be some of the most difficult you have ever experienced and some of the most empowering. You will get through this grief and come out on the other side. When Matt died I felt as though he had left me forever, but I soon learned that was not the case. He was present everywhere, he had gone on but I knew he had remained with me too. I know you two will survive and grow into the future God has for you and your family. I am praying you will find comfort and peace that is not of this world. Love, Aunt Lee

Unknown said...

You put things into perspective Josh. While I sit here at my computer angry that we are late leaving to go to Port Kembla for Easter, I think of you Kari and Stella slowing dancing to Fix You..... So now I sit hear listeing to Fix You, thinking of your sadness, grief, loss and reflecing on my own Family and where we are...you put things into perspective. Sorry we couldnt be with you.

Trevor and Mel xxoo

Alison said...

My heart breaks for you and your family. I'm part of the society of suffering you write about. Our son was stillborn on Jan. 10. A friend told me about your blog. Thanks for sharing your grief so openly and honestly--I feel like I know you if only because I know the sorrow you and your wife are feeling right now. Here is a zen proverb that has meant a lot to me during this journey. I hope it brings you comfort as well.

The morning glory that blooms for an hour
Differs not at heart
From the giant pine that lives for a thousand years

susan said...

This is one of my favorite quotes. I hope it helps.

When one of your children goes out of your life, you think of what he might have done with a few more years and you wonder what you are going to do with the rest of yours.

You never really accept it; you just go through the motions.

Then one day, because there is a world to be lived in, you find yourself a part of it again, trying to accomplish something--something that he did not have time enough to do.

And, perhaps, that is the reason for it all. I hope so.

~ Joseph Kennedy Sr.

Marcia Gunnett Woodard said...

Josh and Kari,

I'm a member of the Society. My induction was on the afternoon of January 2, 2007, when my parents' pastor called to tell me, as gently as you can say such things, that my dad had not survived the impact of the truck against his side of the car. That my mom had been life-flighted to a level 1 trauma center. I was the one to tell my family, the one to stay with my mom while she recovered.

And you're right--
> hope remains
> grace is enough for the moment
> mercy is new every morning
> love never ends

May you find comfort in this loving family of sorrowing strangers.

Jesse said...

When you're ready: http://www.glowinthewoods.com/

Thinking of you guys a lot, though I've never met you.

Anonymous said...

Great post, hope it was therapeutic for you and your family.
See that you are a reader, you can check out Pema Chodro's "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times", very helpful in guiding one through extreme circumstances in life.

Best of luck.


The "Four Reminders".

Joyful to have
Such a human birth,
Difficult to find,
Free and well-favored.

But death is real,
Comes without warning.
This body
Will be a corpse.

Are the laws of karma;
Cause and effect
Cannot be escaped.

Is an ocean of suffering,
Unbearably intense.

Composed by the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

admin said...

praying for you guys

Josh Jackson said...


I wish there was a better way to say thank-you for the glowinthewoods link. It has helped us immensely. Where did you hear about it?


Charisma said...

You will.
We used to think a day wouldn't go by without tears. Then we would feel distress at the idea that a day might go by without tears-the odd nature of grief!
Calling the overwhelming, "I can't breathe", tears are up to my eyeballs sensation "storming", has helped my husband and me to know when to tread lightly or hold each other more tightly.
We are holding you in the light and we are sorrowful you had to say good-bye.
Butterfly Blessings sent in memory of Britton Elise Tandy (9/14-9/20/2004).
Charisma & Bob...Moline, IL

Jesse said...


I can't tell you how glad I am that it has helped you both, in some part. (Knew of it through a blog I've followed for a few years: http://www.sweetsalty.com/.

I'm in Kari's mom group and live nearby - think of you guys a lot and continue to hope for peace for your beautiful family.


Post a Comment