There is a poem written in 1848, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, after the death of his little daughter, Fanny.
The poem, “Resignation,” has in one of its stanzas the following:
“And though at times impetuous with emotion
And anguish long suppressed,
The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean,
That cannot be at rest.”
He had recorded in his diary that “ I feel very sad today. I miss very much my dear little Fanny. An inappeasable longing to see her comes over me at times, which I can hardly control.”
I find comfort in this poem. While this man was grief stricken, yet he understood that although he could not change what happened he could still allow himself to sorrow.
So much of grief over time, must be resigned to in order to just carry on, or go under. But that doesn’t mean denial of feelings, or emotions.
The meaning of the word resignation, is to have an accepting, unresisting attitude.
I think back to an earlier time in my life, when fresh in grief over our son’s death, I tried to smother my sorrow by fighting against it. As if that would make the hurt stop, but it didn’t.
I read in a book once that some try to escape their pain by taking a cruise or traveling. But as I recall, this person related that there is no escape, and that facing the sorrow head on was the better choice.
I have found that resignation doesn’t mean drowning my emotions, or being drowned by them, but allowing them like a wave to carry me to the next level in a new way of life.
For me it began in the very beginning, when every morning I would crawl out of bed and like a wave hitting me in the face, the thought, Aaron has died, slap, slap. This was raw fresh grief, and I shrank from it. Denial doesn’t help, as I learned soon. It was like a wrestling match at first, me trying to run from my pain.
But there did come a day when I surrendered and embraced what could not be changed.
And it was with God’s help that I accepted this new reality, and found peace. I was able to allow my emotions freedom to feel deeply, yet at the same time be resigned to what was.
Even as waves pound continually upon the rocks, so my throbbing heart must be grateful that I am able to feel even when it hurts and not be crushed or defeated.
As the poet Longfellow ended his poem, he wrote.: “The grief that must have way.”