The pain of loss

In this reflection James Cathcart writes about the pain of loss. Through reflecting on David’s grief and the lyrics of a Scottish indie pop song he considers the feelings of numbness and alienation that can develop through bereavement and mourning but also the eventual healing over time as we learn to feel our soul again.


David is devastated. His son has died. The loss must have been intensified by all that was left unsaid and unresolved in their complex relationship. He cries out, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’

These words do what they can to capture what must have been a deep and ultimately wordless grief.

‘Teenage Fanclub’, a Scottish indie band are famous for their shiny power pop drenched in waves of sunny guitar and sweet harmonies. But their trademark sound becomes ironic in ‘Can’t Feel My Soul’ which expresses the devastation of loss. A loss that David, himself a songwriter, would have recognised keenly. The grief stricken refrain of “I can’t feel my soul without you” is paired with a beautiful soaring melody. The singer is broken but the tune carries on - an insistent, irrepressible earworm. With different words the song could be about surfing, or falling in love, perhaps long endless days of summer - but it’s about loss - deep gut wrenching loss.

The song captures the bittersweet rush of memory, remembering all the reasons you love someone while also contemplating the missed opportunities and the pain of their absence, giving us an insight into how David and others in his position feel. Raymond McGinley sings a heartfelt cry, expressing how he is lost and losing himself in the grief, and yet the tune carries on regardless. It’s unmistakably a pop song, shining and effervescent, with an otherworldly, buzzing guitar solo - that speaks of life’s continued energy.


Even in the wake of our tragedy

life carries on.

Even as we feel numb and detached

- like the world is caving in -

life keeps going,

even when we can’t feel our soul.


It can feel cruel

and difficult for the person mourning

but it’s also part of the healing - that life carries on.

Bit by bit,

by the grace of God,

we will begin to feel our soul again.


Thank you loving God

for the people who help us feel our soul

We pray for all those struggling to feel their soul

Help them to hear the melody that

when they’re ready

can bring them gently back

to themselves and others.

Amen.


James Cathcart


#devestation #death #detachment #hollow #care #recover

Readings

  • Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”

    The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”

    The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”

    The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had diedinstead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

    2 Samuel 18: 31-33
    NIV
  • In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

    Romans 8: 26-27
    NIV
  • “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

    John 15: 9
    NIV

Prayers

  • Thank you

    Thank you loving God

    for the people who help us feel our soul

  • Hearing the melody

    We pray for all those struggling to feel their soul

    Help them to hear the melody that

    when they’re ready

    can bring them gently back

    to themselves and others.

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