“You are deeply grieving.”

I wake up in the morning to my first alarm. I silence it. There doesn’t seem to be much point in waking up, yet again. I go back to sleep for another couple of hours, and my second alarm goes off. I stumble out of bed, ready for my coffee. It doesn’t taste as good as it used to—no longer rich and satisfying, energizing or uplifting. It tastes flat. Just like my life.

After eating breakfast, if I even bother to eat it, I head downstairs to the room I have dubbed as my “Pony Room.” In this room reside approximately four hundred fifty My Little Ponies, though since my shopping therapy game has increased exponentially, so has my collection. Once upon a time, just seeing them uplifted me heart and soul, like a second cup of coffee and a sense of connection to my childhood. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I get a smile out of them, which makes me wonder while I’m still buying the stupid things.

The “Pony Room” is also my “Writing Room,” where I have a computer desk comfortably situated under the window well. Two lamps sit on the desk: one is a gooseneck lamp, while the other is a broad spectrum therapy light. I use the therapy light to battle Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the past, using it for more than a half hour made me hyperactive, per the warning on the instruction manual. Nowadays, it barely combats the lethargy and sadness that permeates every aspect of my life, even when I use it for an hour or more.

I flip on both lights, open my laptop computer, and make a feeble attempt to write. Some days, it works. Other days, I write nothing and feel like a total failure as a human being. I shut the computer, flip off the lights, head back upstairs, and go back to bed.

This is grief. This is what it looks like. This is what it feels like. It is not all just crying and sobbing, though that is a definite part of it. Grief sort of strips me of my will and ability to enjoy everything. It makes me think over and over again how my parents died in a tragic fire, and that I will never see them again in this life. It touches every part of my life, every single day.

When a new book from my dad’s and my favorite author is released, I pull out my cell phone to send him a text, and then it hits me: he’s not there. When I find a great new show that I want to tell my parents about, and tell them how good it is and why, they are not there. When I want commiseration from my mom about my poor housekeeping skills, it’s not there. All the little things they did that held me up and supported me are gone.

“You are deeply grieving,” my counselor told me.

Yeah. I figured that out on my own. But the full depth of the words did not hit me until this morning.

Grief mimics the very thing that causes it: death. It strips everything away and leaves me feeling utterly lifeless. This phase of grieving I’m in—depression—is like death in life. Nothing seems to touch me to my center anymore except for sadness. I drown my days in stuff like books and TV shows and anything to distract me, but even that excitement is dulled and colored with sadness. I laugh during games—I laugh really hard, but the ache inside me never goes away.

I feel dead.

But my counselor’s words reminded me: I am not dead. I am grieving.

And in order to grieve, you have to be alive.

So I continue my routine. I drink my coffee. I try to take a few moments to admire my collection. I try to write. I sit in front of my therapy lamp. I watch my TV shows or read my books. I play games with my family. And I keep reminding myself that I am alive, even when I feel completely dead.

I’ll say it again: grief is a lot like death.

Fortunately, however, I know somebody who has conquered death, so I do not mourn as those who have no hope. My God, Jesus Christ, is my hope. My God, Jesus Christ, is my life. And He is the life of my parents, too. So even though I feel like I am dead right now, even though I am deeply grieving, even though I am at the bottom of a well with no help in sight, I have hope.

And it’s that hope that gets me out of bed each morning to drink my coffee.

Image courtesy of George Hodan on PublicDomainPictures.net

Is Deadly Force Ever Necessary?

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Today’s topic is going to be quite controversial. I hesitate even to bring it up, because my goal here is not to be a political writer. However, there is a thought which has been rattling around inside my head since I finished watching the anime Rurouni Kenshin. That thought, of course, is the question of whether deadly force is ever necessary.

In the show, the protagonist, Kenshin, has sworn a vow never to kill again as a way to repent for all of the blood he shed during the revolution leading up to the Meiji Restoration. Instead, he defeats his enemies using nonlethal force. It’s effective, to be sure, and the police usually come in and arrest the offender, but not always. This leads to some villains escaping and causing more trouble in the future. I am not saying that I think Kenshin ought to be murdering any of these people he goes up against, but there are some villains who, in my opinion, really ought to die. To quote another favorite of my shows, Burn Notice, “Sometimes you gotta put a mad dog down.”

So where does that leave us? Is deadly force ever justified? If a man is trying to rape me, am I not justified in killing him if it is the only way to save myself? I would argue yes, there are times when deadly force is not only justified, but necessary. Sorry, Kenshin. You’re still the most bad-ass pacifist I’ve ever seen. But maybe pacifism is a bit off base sometimes.

This leads, however, to another conundrum: when should deadly force be used and who gets to decide that? It cannot simply be up to the individual, yet that is usually where the decision lies. I am speaking here, of course, of the question of police officers using deadly force. It’s kind of funny that in Rurouni Kenshin there is an episode which centers on police brutality and government corruption. As I watched it, I thought, “Oh look, it’s America in 2018!” Of course, Kenshin stops the police brutality in a nonlethal way, the corrupt police officers are arrested, and the ending is happy. But it speaks volumes on the topic of abuse of power. I think that today, in many cases, some police officers are taking advantage of the fact that deadly force is sometimes permissible, and then using this to oppress minority groups. Not all police officers are like this. I’m not lumping all police officers together. But the truth of the matter is that, like the vicious “police swordsmen”  in Rurouni Kenshin,  some in the police force are acting as judge, jury, and executioner.

There is a fine line between a police state and a free state, and when the police have the authority to kill without consequence, that line is crossed.

What do you think? Is deadly force ever justifiable? Who should get to decide that? Is pacifism the answer, or should fire be fought with fire?  It’s a topic I’ve certainly been turning over in my head, and I would love to know some other takes on it.


Do you like reading books where characters are faced with moral dilemmas? Check out my novel Charybda, the first story in a two-book series where a young woman must choose whether to fight evil with questionable means or whether to let innocent people perish. Read the first chapter here or learn more here.