COLUMBUS DAY STORM

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Shattered by Loss and Sorrow


On October 12, 1962, Ron and I were living in Portland, Oregon when The Columbus Day Storm struck. Wind gusts were clocked at 116 miles per hour at the Morrison Street Bridge. We stood at our front bay window oblivious of the danger, watching debris flying everywhere. I shudder as I realize that we could have been seriously injured by shattered glass or even killed by our house ­collapsing.

We ­didn’t realize the severity of the storm until it passed, and we drove through the streets. Portland looked as if an angry giant had stomped through the city, crushing one house or business and leaving others untouched or slightly damaged. The wind blew out windows, knocked down fireplace chimneys, and rolled cars and large mobile homes across highways as if they were tin toys. The storm ripped off huge tree branches and felled power poles and lines. Streets and rivers were clogged with debris. Amazingly, our house was not damaged even though it sat on a knoll above the other houses on our ­street.

Sorrow can strike us like a hurricane. We wonder how we survived such a crushing loss. We may suffer immense grief when storms of trials rip our lives apart, leaving behind shattered, broken ­hearts.

We can also lose our sense of personal identity and place, such as after the loss of a job or a death. We don’t know who we are without our loved one. We feel as if part of us is missing, and we’re not the person we were ­before. When Ron passed away, we had been married fifty-six and a half years. I had never lived alone, and I felt lost for the next two years.

Gerald Sittser suffered the full force of a hurricane of sorrow after three of his family members were killed in a single accident. He wrote, “That initial deluge of loss slowly gave way over the next months to the steady seepage of pain that comes when grief, like floodwaters refusing to subside, finds every crack and crevice of the human spirit to enter and erode. I thought that I was going to lose my ­mind.”1

“The loss of anything of real value which a person cares about can produce grief. There seem to be important factors in understanding grief. Not only have I lost something, but it is something of value, something which has provided me with security or support or satisfaction and fulfillment, something in which I have been invested emotionally, something which I truly care ­about.”2

The more we loved and cared about someone, the more of ourselves that we committed to a relationship or invested in our work or project we were passionate about but ends, the more staggering our grief.

Prayer

O my Comforter, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” “My eye has also grown dim because of sorrow, And all my members are like shadows.” O God, “wipe away every tear from my eyes; for in heaven there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things will pass away.” (Ps. 13:2 NIV; Job 17:7 NKJV; Rev. 21:4 NKJV)

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