Unanswerable...

Will you ask God if he still loves me? 

Do you think she's in pain?

Are we doing the right thing? 

Is this really what she would want?

Why is this happening? 

Many if not most of us have faced these kinds of questions before, mostly in times of crisis, and mostly when we were faced with decisions we least expected. Underneath and within these questions exists a deep yearning that most potential answers can never satiate. As a chaplain, these are only examples of some questions I've either heard asked by family members, or have been asked directly. When I hear them, I know almost instantly that the question asked is a much simpler version of the question held in one's heart, in one's inmost being. My call in these situations is rarely to provide an answer (unless someone insists, in which case, I do my best). My call, most often, is to be present in those moments and help a person sit with the nature of their question, with its pain, its uncertainty, and with the deeper question that most people face: what's going to happen to me?

I don't mean to say that most people are self-centered, egotistical prats. I mean to say that in times of crisis involving people we love and to whom we've bound ourselves in one way or another, these questions come up because we know that the loss of those people implies an irreversible change in ourselves. Yes, we're saddened by the possibility that someone we love will no longer be around, that they'll lose some skill or ability, that their personalities might change, or that their demands of us might increase. But we are just as concerned about how these events are going to change us.

Life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to seek those answers that continues to give meaning to life. You can spend your life wallowing in despair, wondering why you were the one who was led towards the road strewn with pain, or you can be grateful that you are strong enough to survive it — J.D. Stroube

Most often, when people experience a loss, their minds go to one of two places initially: either they start to wrestle with the what-ifs of a situation or they jump right into the details of the what's-next. In the moment of pain, crisis, and loss, it's hard for most of us to sit in that pain and bear it. To do so would be to accept that change is coming, whether we like it or not. It is often the job (and privilege) of those of us on the periphery to help contain the questions that surface. We don't have to offer answers. We just need to show up.

We don't need to have the answers. We'll never have them. They'll come and go and change. And all we can do is figure out the best way to behave when life comes at us. Even if society says it isn't right. Right is so subjective, after all — Na, I'll Be Seeing You

We all have stories of times when the questions we faced felt too much to bear. What are some of the questions you've faced in difficult times? Did answers ever come? How did those questions change you? The people around you? Your faith? If you're willing to share, I'd greatly appreciate your stories (as would others).