It is a terrible emotion, but one that helps us heal. Death is inevitable and something we must all face in due time, whether it is our own or that of a loved one. The latter, of course, it what presents us with grief. We suffer such a tremendous loss that it feels like our hearts are wrenched from our chests. It may even have a soul-shattering-like effect.
No matter who we are we all experience this at some point. The difference is how we respond. Each person has their own way of doing so. When my grandmother past away last year, I heard anger from my uncles, aunts dissolved into tears, some relatives craved closeness, and others sought privacy. Grief, for me, was the latter unless hugged. I felt like glass, hard enough to hold it together but could shatter in a touch. This reaction wasn’t surprising; it’s typically how sadness for me in general goes. What was surprising was feeling as if my mind was underwater. It would take me twice as long to comprehend something being told and when it came to decisions in my personal life I could care less of the consequences.
I bought what I wanted without questioning if my budget could take it and ate what I wanted without caring what the long-term effects were (with all the chocolate I had, I wouldn’t be surprised if a cavity appeared). Losing a beloved pet is no different. Although it was on a smaller scale, the pain of loss didn’t hurt any less and the grief was still difficult to experience. It is a hard thing to overcome, but it is necessary for us to heal the wound the absence of a loved one left behind.
Jesus knew what grief looked like. He meet with those who grieved and wept with them.
“When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept.
Psychologically, grief has many different levels and, depending on the person, many different reactions. The levels can range from starting the moment someone finds out their loved one will pass soon and thus grieves their future loss to chronic grief where someone cannot rise above the dark waters of loss for a great period of time and may need professional help to move on. No matter the level or the reaction, those who grieve need comfort.
Comforting another during their grief is like someone who comes along in a boat to help the one who is drowning. The griever may be pulled out of the icy cold waters, but they are still soaked to the bone and shivering from the cold. The comforter, if kind at heart, will then row the griever to shore no matter how far it is, give them dry clothes, and a warm fire. All the while, the comforter listens and gives verbal aide to the one who is suffering.
While Elisha didn’t have someone in the flesh comforting him, he still grieved the loss of his friend and mentor Elijah, and God gently reminded him He was with him.
“And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.” –2 Kings 2:12b-14
Elisha in his grief was frustrated, crying out where was God when he needed Him. God parted the waters for him to cross to let him know He was right there with him. God is always with us, even during the dark times. In grief, though, it can be hard to see Him, but if we are open to His blessings, we can see Him move even then. We can take comfort in this.
Something else we can take comfort in is knowing this life isn’t all we have. For those of us who have prayed to receive Christ’s gift of salvation through repentance of sins, belief in the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead, and admitting Jesus is our Savior, we have the hope of living through eternity in His loving arms. To anyone who is reading this and has not prayed such a prayer and would like to, by all means please do so without hesitation. We never know what tomorrow might bring. May we all take comfort knowing that one day every tear will be wiped away.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” –Revelations 21:3-5