Melancholy Park - Elisabeth Klein

Question: “My divorce has been final for a while. Why am I still so sad?”

Over a year-and-a-half ago, I felt so lost. (And again a time or two since then.) Sad. Blah. Passion-less. I purchased a book* to help me work through the sad state I was in and I was clicking right along. I did everything it told me to do: I came up with a life timeline, listed the negative points, processed the redemption that had come from each, and decided upon my five primary roles. This was all good and fine; I really felt like I was accomplishing something.

And then…and then I hit a wall.

So I did what I usually do when I hit a wall: I spent some time with my mentor. And I told her about the process that I was making myself go through and how, when I got to the step where it asked what my ambitions were – how I wanted to live out my life in each of my five roles – how I hit a wall and couldn’t think of anything to write down under any of them, after thinking and praying about it for several days.

I told her that for the past twenty years, I’ve had various passions. Mothering young children, then women’s ministry, then social justice. That I’d poured myself into each of these things, wrote about these things, been an advocate for these things. But that right then, I didn’t feel like I had a passion for anything.

And she said, “I have your answer.”

“Okay,” I said. “What is it?”

And then she said this, “Years ago, when people lost someone they loved, it was expected that they would mourn for a year. They were given black arm bands to wear.  They even put black wreathes on their front doors. They were to rest and grieve and heal. They even had places in the middle of their town called Melancholy Park where they would be allowed to go and just sit.  Can you imagine? No one would bother them, no one made fun of them, no one pushed them to get back into their regular lives. They were not only allowed but encouraged to do the grieving work, for a year.”

I sat there, tears streaming down my face, not even four months past my divorce. (I had been kicking myself for not yet feeling healed and whole already.)

She continued, “You have lost something big. Picture yourself with a black arm band. Let yourself rest. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself heal. I’ll let you know if I think you’re not doing enough. But right now, just rest. Because if you don’t do the work now, it’ll come out eventually.”

I went home and put that book away. The process of finding my new place, my next chapter, my next thing, would just have to wait a few months. (Okay, several months.)

Because in that season, I had the deeper works of rest and grieving and healing to accomplish. How I had wished I could live in Melancholy Park, but she said we can only visit.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. –Psalm 34:18 (NLT)-

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

 

*Storyline by Donald Miller