When I was writing my book on Saints and Suffering last year, I didn't include a chapter on Grief. There were several reasons for that, but probably the main one was that I didn't realize just how much suffering there is involved in the grief process. Now that I've been griefwalking throught my loss, I think I'd like to investigate how the saints dealt with and handled their grief.
The one place I do talk about grief is in the chapter on St. Jane de Chantal. In it, I wrote:
Yesterday I talked about how our culture expects us to be over and done with grief in a matter of days (preferably hours if not minutes), but that grief doesn't work that way. I find it surprisingly comforting to realize that a saint was "inconsolable and despondent," even deeply depressed, after a death.St. Jane de Chantal had more than her share (of suffering)It began when her beloved husband, the Baron de Chantal, died from an accidental gunshot wound, leaving her a widow with three small children. Jane was inconsolable and despondent, falling into a deep, grief-fueled depression for at least four months. For various reasons, including protecting her children’s estate, Jane was forced to live with her father-in-law, a difficult and tyrannical man who made her life miserable. For seven long years, she lived in virtual servitude until finally, as her biographers say, her patience and virtue triumphed.
Because we are so loathe to let grief has its time, the depression that falls like a soggy wet tarp on life isn't something we are comfortable discussing. "Get something to help!" is the well-meaning advice of friends. What they really are saying is "Your depression is making me uncomfortable, so take something so that you act happier and that way I won't have to feel so uneasy when you burst into tears over a cup of tea."