"Good morning, Job. Welcome to another day of trying to understand the nature of your restoration and the hope that there is for all of us who have a longing to be restored after our griefs. You know, when I was teaching a class on your book at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, one of the students, who was a counselor, shared with me John Bowlby's model of dealing with grief and loss. It really is a very attractive model, and I think it helps me in studying your book.
Briefly stated, Bowlby wants to look at grief and loss from the perspective of the one who will continue to live. Unlike Kubler-Ross, whose 1969 classic On Death and Dying focused on the acceptance of death, Bowlby wants to see how new life emerges after loss. He conceptualizes loss like a spiral or helix, and he identifies five places along the spiral which are characterized by inner attitudes/feelings and external manifestations. For example, his first "station of the helix" [I just thunk that up myself right now, Job], is "Protest," which has the inner attitudes/feelings of "fear, shock, denial, confusion, panic, anger, anger at self and bargaining." The external manifestations of this place on the helix are "crying, pain, physical changes, such as sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, etc." Well, I don't want to review all the other "stations" in detail, but I will mention that (2) is "Despair"; (3) is "Detachment"; (4) is "Recovery"; and (5) is "Restoration."
Kind of cool theory, don't you think, Job? People spend a lot of time and get paid a lot of money for thinking about grief and loss in our culture, today. But one thing interested me, Job, in reading about various theories of grief. NO ONE, no one at all, ever takes YOU into consideration in formulating their theories. Why not? I mean, you have given us the most sophisticated, raw, eloquent expression of the emotions attendant upon loss in Western literature and everyone IGNORES you. Well, maybe they figure you ought to be relegated to Bible Study classes in churches or to classes in a seminary or graduate program. But, what they don't seem to recognize, Job, is that both the structure and the content of your book give the most profound expression of the content and the "stages" of grief which a person faces.
Oh, I could try to "fit you in" either to Kubler-Ross's or Bowlby's models. Let's just do it, for a fun exercise. Kubler-Ross stage (1) is denial. We can see that in Job 1:20-22. You were denying it, right? Her stage (2) is anger. How about Job 6 or 7? Yep. Then she has "bargaining" for stage 3. Maybe that can be interpreted as your quest for a redeemer/witness. What is (4)? Depression. Wow, look at Job 14. Depression in spades. Finally, she has acceptance. Job 42. Bingo. Or, Bowlby. He says station one is "Protest." My goodness, your whole book manifests that. (2) is Despair. How about this verse: "My days are past, my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart" (17:11). Can you think of anything so despairing? There are tons of other verses I could cite. Stage (3) for Bowlby is "detachment." That may be found in many of your expressions of apathy and lack of concern about what happens to you or to anything in life. Finally, there is (4) Recovery and (5) Restoration. Recovery can be seen in 42:1-6 as you "see God." And, the text itself uses language of restoration in 42:10--"And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job...."
But this was all a game, Job. I did this, fitting you into the Procrustean bed of modern grief interpreters, because I wanted to show that everything they say you recognize. But, you know, none of the researchers have heard YOUR formulation of your grief, YOUR way of defining your problems. Thus, you can be "fit into" someone else's theory, but no one is seemingly listening to YOU.
That must be frustrating for you, Job. I know it is frustrating to me. Let me give you an example. After I became divorced in 2001, I decided to go to a shrink or two just to see how they could help me define some issues that I was going to face. It was a very bad decision, Job. I just don't think I was ready. Maybe I was too vain or proud (probably), but I just wasn't receptive to what they were trying to do. I think I rebelled at two levels. On the one hand I think I rejected the "medical" model which I perceived was at the base of what they were trying to do. I was much more interested in conversation than diagnosis. Second, I think that I reject also the "psychologist/psychiatrist as neutral" model that seems to dominate the field. That is, I wanted to talk to them as people, with their own inadequacies and hangups. I guess I just misunderstood what they were about--like I misunderstand almost everything else in life, Job. In any case, I got the distinct impression that one guy was trying desperately to fit me into the DSM 4 categories, and another was so enamored of his Rogerian theory that he couldn't get himself out of his own web of limitation. Thus, I saw these guys as imprisoned by their own methodology and unable to listen to me as a result. I am sure that I was just being a jerk, but I don't want to lose the point. I didn't feel as if I was being heard.
That's how you must feel, Job, when you learn about all these modern greif researchers. They don't even take your tears or problems into consideration. But I have been trying to hear you; I really have. And, what I still want to know is the shape of your restoration which the text mentions in 42:10. I want to know this because today I am wondering if new life is ever really possible. And please don't tell me that I am just intellectualizing life, Job, because I will just want to subject that statement to scrutiny.
Well, one more conversation, and where are we? I don't know, Job. One friend of mine accuses me of taking three steps backward for every one I take forward. Maybe she is right. But this was my step(s) for today.