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My great-grandfather owned and operated a small fishing business. He always encouraged me to catch myself when falling by saying, “Throw out your nets, son!” For most of my childhood, I lived 1,000 miles away from the dock where the salt air lifts the soul. Working on the dock was fun, but I am more of a nerd. Who knows if things would have been different had we not moved. – David A. Lloyd, God Is In the Doubt

Fishermen have used gillnets as a tool for catching fish since ancient times. My grandfather and uncle would take me out on the water and show me how to use these nets. Sometimes we were fishing for mullet, sometimes spot or mackerel. They each had a unique method but the basics and result were the same. A gillnet’s material allows it to not be seen in the water and the webbing size and shape targets a particular species and size. (Note: Many fisheries heavily regulate gillnetting to ensure young fish are not caught nor are other species.)

When a target species encounters the net, and its size does not permit swimming through, it struggles to free itself. They are stuck and fight against the entrapment until the fish is too exhausted to continue. Some come loose and continue their life, mostly unscathed. If the fish cannot shake off the net, the fisherman pulls it out of the water. They now struggle not only with the net, but unable to breathe.

Grief and loss are like a net. Unaware that they too may hit the net soon, some swim by and see their brothers and say, “Why are you not swimming? Just break free!” Some encounters with grief gave me temporary pause, like when my grandmothers died. But after a few days, I left the net even though the people are remembered and missed.

I have struggled against the net for three years. The net is behind my gills, and I can barely breathe. Oblivious of the net, the fish swimming by offering platitudes do not understand what the problem is, much less how to help. They see me put on a smile and start moving, fighting against the net, and they think, “Great! You are swimming again!” No, I am just trying one last time to break free.

Caught in the net of grief, I am pulled into the boat and unable to breathe. Will the Great Fisherman free me, or am I His target?

Published inGrief

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