I just re-read one of my favorite novels of all time, Adam Bede by Mary Ann Sanders, who wrote under the name George Eliot. It was published in 1859, yet I find much of it so relevant even today. Maybe timeless is the best term.
Most of us have been hit at one time or another by blinding, paralyzing grief. And the longer we live, the more losses we face. Some of us want nothing better than to “get back to where we were” and have things “go back to normal”. This author has a lovely description to gently move us away from that wish, in describing the gift of growing tenderness and compassion that can spring forth from our sorrow:
“For Adam, though you see him quite master of himself, working hard and delighting in his work after his inborn inalienable nature, had not outlived his sorrow – had not felt it slip from him as a temporary burthen, and leave him the same man again. Do any of us? God forbid. It would be a poor result for all our anguish and our wrestling, if we gain nothing but our old selves at the end of it – if we could return to the same blind loves, the same self-confident blame, the same frivolous gossip over blighted human lives, the same feeble sense of that Unknown towards which we have sent forth irrepressible cries in our loneliness. Let us rather be thankful that our sorrow lives on in us as an indestructible force, only changing its form, as forces do, and passing from pain into sympathy – the one poor word which includes all our best insight and our best love.”