Comfortable words

1We’re not the first and won’t be the last, but I don’t know what I think until I write it down, and writing is therapeutic, so …

We need to lick our wounds. We’re not straying from the nest.

I find solace in liturgy and the offices of the church. A funeral visit yesterday was truly moving, and I heard and saw that the family found it so too. Officiating at Evensong sung by Lichfield Cathedral choristers was like being wrapped in a sucky-rug woven by strands from Carlisle, Southwell, Ripon and Dublin. Mostly Carlisle: great east window, celestial ceiling, mediaeval misericords, organ. Emotional certainly, but good emotional not bad emotional. This kind of professional activity is somehow real. It’s just about all that matters at present other than family and close friends. Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.  

Anything that requires a response from me is out of the question. I should be at two coffee mornings today. There’s no chance. I can’t face any sort of social interaction except with those who know the value of silence. This is nothing new, but what is new is the pain of being talked at. Pious platitudes provoke an only just resisted thrusting of index and middle fingers into the speaker’s eyes. They may mean well, but that doesn’t make it any better. Wise people say “there’s nothing I can say.” Even some clergy have responded thus. If in doubt, say nowt.

Some people say they will pray for us. A few years back while driving up the M1 I heard a radio play in which Almighty God, overwhelmed by prayer requests flooding in by heavenly fax, asked his secretary to hand him the next in line for action. It was—a bit of a backlog—from someone whose family had been wiped out by the Black Death. I doubt that any fax about us would make it to the top pretty soon. My notion of the impassible Divine isn’t that of a celestial GP doling out analgesic pastilles on demand.

The new dog entertains despite sharp baby teeth. It’s impossible not to be amused at a Boxer pup, though I suspect amusement will soon become tarsomeness and irritation. Irritation: yes, the rawness of grief makes me even more intolerant. I can hardly bear to engage with arguments about trivia, and let’s face it, it’s all pretty trivial. I know that people like the Vicar to make decisions so that they can blame him when stuff goes wrong, but Hugh’s death has made me determined not to engage with this kind of childishness. Is this intolerance of trivia temporary? I sure hope not.

I’ve been taken aback by some people’s responses in two ways. First, some persistently ask prurient questions. Ed pointed out that what they really want to know is: was it suicide? (Hugh “died suddenly”). That had not occurred to me. Now when people do this, I say “it wasn’t”. Second, a few people who’ve made precious little effort for decades to keep in touch with Hugh or us suddenly become very “caring”. Perhaps they are sincerely trying to help, but I can’t help feeling it’s just guilt.

It’s a lovely day: cold, sunny, my favourite. The sort of day for a train journey down the Rhine to a Christmas Market. Mainz perhaps, or Limburg (that was good). The Germans know how to do Advent.

2 thoughts on “Comfortable words

  1. Angela Newton

    Thank you Stanley for your comfortable words – and they were. Love to you both and Vicky and Edward – it was good to talk yesterday – thank you Sue for letting me. xx

    Reply

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