I have been thinking about loss a lot lately, not because I’m currently experiencing it myself, but because so many people around me are. In the last two weeks, one of our students lost her mother very suddenly. Her dad is struggling to parent two daughters while stepping through the social, financial, spiritual, physical, and practical implications of losing his wife, who was my age. At the same time, a local family lost their one month old baby after a one week battle with severe seizures, and a longtime volunteer at the thrift store where we often work passed away very unexpectedly. My daughter’s teenage classmate suffered a severe concussion on the ski slopes, and while everyone is thankful that his life was spared, he is struggling to regain the level of functioning that he had prior to the accident. Another family has just passed the milestone of one year since their fifteen-year-old daughter died from cancer, while yet another is remembering the death of a dad, husband, and grandpa who passed away a year ago after being in a coma-like state for many months following an accident. Still another young family spends their days tending and loving their 2-year-old son, who has outlived all of the predictions for his life expectancy, yet he is seemingly unaware of their sacrifices or even their presence as they lovingly care for his every need. For each of these people, life as they know it is a roller coaster of loving, remembering, hoping, fearing, and dreaming, as each grieves what they have lost.
Loss is a significant part of life; predictable, in that we know we will face it at one time or another, yet unpredictable in that we typically don’t know when it’s coming. Loss causes grief for everyone it touches, yet everyone grieves in his or her own way. (I’ll write more about that next week).
I have been profoundly touched by grieving people who demonstrate that they “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who do not have hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13). They have shared beautiful testimonies of hope of being reunited with loved ones, thankfulness for the gifts they enjoy, joy in the precious memories (old and new), and peace in the faithful provision of their Heavenly Father.
Many of you reading this are experiencing grief, either fresh or somewhat healed over time. Whether you are grieving, are helping someone who is grieving, or are learning and growing in preparation for a future grief journey, I hope you will be comforted to know that you are not alone. Remember, “Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” (Earl Grollman)