The day of visitation arrives. Tearfully, our loved ones line up to offer condolences. Family members gather around us as tears briefly turn to laughter at joyous reunions and happy memories. Momentarily, we feel sane again.
The funeral arrives, cloaked in solemn black, and part of our heart enters the earth. Afterward, we stagger home, numb and less than whole. The world is off its axis and nothing feels familiar any more.
Time becomes a blur as we mechanically face the kind words, tears, food and hugs of strangers. We hover between reality and unreality, never sure where to put our feet.
We feel lost. Yet, the day crawls forward and the fitful night arrives. In time, the morning blossoms anew. Days and nights follow and we feel guilty for existing. Yet, gravity moves us forward after a tragic loss. We face new days & challenges filled with moments of sadness.
The inexorable inevitability of time helps us heal. We should be grateful for the sedative of time. Without it, grief would swallow us whole. Time heals because it saves.
We assemble our mementos as our shrine to reflect upon as we continue our existence. Eventually, we find new patterns in our lives. Even though we feel less than whole, we begrudgingly accept this new reality, as we put one foot in front of the other.
When Jesus faced the grief of the cross, he turned to prayer and his friends. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch” (Mark 14:34).
We learn three points from this passage. First, grief is destructive without prayer (Philippians 4:6). When we lay our sorrow on God’s shoulders, we have less to carry and can maintain our forward progress.
Second, sorrow is natural to man. Even Jesus, when he walked among us, felt the sting of loss. As a result, he understands our grief and pain, having felt it in his own heart (John 11:17-37).
Third, sorrow is less fearsome in a crowd. We know God will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and we need our loved ones around us. Even if they sit in silence, their presence warms our heart and makes our pain easier to bear (Job 2:11-13). Their warmth and presence brings comfort and strength.
Grief will devour us, if we do not move forward. Even if we move slowly, we are advancing and that is all that matters.