Disbelief during loss is sinister. How many times should someone have to face their loss? It turns out you face it repeatedly every day. Multiple times a day. It’s almost like waking up having to live an event over and over. And worse, you have deceptive surges of disbelief sneak in when you’re not expecting.
“I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.” Psalm 38:6-7
Even if you’re facing loss head on, your mind is still trying to integrate a new massive change into years of memories. Your mind often reverts to the past memory and ignores the present reality. It’s like reformatting a disk, except more difficult.
The disbelief is like a plague that just won’t go away. I found myself sitting alone at times and would occasionally look at the other end of the couch and just shake my head. Other times, I’d be with someone and just blurt out, “I just cannot believe it.”
I found myself at times giving theological or mental assent to the facts. I knew the truth. But in those early moments, days, and even months it did not change the feelings. It still doesn’t change the feelings. Further, I couldn’t stop the disbelief or the shaking of my head. I’d lock eyes with someone, and we would both shake our heads.
“Image-bearers of God are not impervious.” David Powlison, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
Loss never strikes this close to home, right? It’s just unimaginable. I remember walking into the funeral home on the Sunday of the visitation. I entered the room alone and had time to weep. Finally, I stood and went to bring my three children into the room with me. We stood crying before the casket holding Kim’s body. We wailed. We held each other and just let our tears flow. We held each other.
I remember a sense of focus coming over me. A sense of resolution. I kept saying out loud, “This is a stake in the ground.” I added, “Everything has changed.” I repeated it over and over: “This is a stake in the ground.” However, I’m not sure it was helping me get beyond disbelief. But I knew I had to help my family and myself. So, I kept saying it. “This is a stake in the ground.”
Stake or no stake, it’s difficult to believe I’ve lost her.
Disbelief. Recurring. Like a plague. Yet, through it all, I was forcing my gaze upon Christ. While experiencing loss, Christ’s presence is a balm even for the plague of recurring disbelief.
“I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.” Psalm 38:8-9