Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reflection on grief

"I have been daily grateful for the friend who remarked that grief isolates. He did not mean only that I, grieving, am isolated from you, happy. He meant also that shared grief isolates the sharers from each other. Though united in that we are grieving, we grieve differently. As each death has its own character, so too each grief over a death has its own character-its own inscape. The dynamics of each person's sorrow must be allowed to work themselves out without judgment. I may find it strange that you should be tearful today but dry-eyed yesterday when my tears were yesterday. But my sorrow is not your sorrow. There's something more: I must struggle so hard to regain life that I cannot reach out to you. Nor you to me. The one not grieving must touch us both. It's when people are happy they say, "Let's get together"." Lament for a Son - Nicholas Wolterstorff (page 56)

My cousin's recent death while climbing Mt. Fuji in Japan, has caused me to reflect quite a bit on grief. Just as Nicholas Wolterstorff says, "grief isolates". It's such a very different experience for each of us, and yet, it should be so. My experiences with my cousin are different from his sister's experiences with him, his mother and father's experiences with him, his friends and co-worker's experiences. It is a testimony to our uniqueness to watch people grieve. It is a testimony to our soul, our personality, the "thing" that makes us different, special, loved, is the very thing that not only brings us together but also isolates us. My perspective on the death of my cousin is so very different than his sister's. I grieve for their loss, knowing that while I miss Matt, I know where he is and look forward to seeing him in heaven (such is the blessed promise of the resurrection, that promise coming by faith in Jesus), but my cousins grieve because although they know they'll see him again, right now a part of them is missing. Always one gone at dinner, always a phone call missing on their birthdays, always a laugh that is now not shared, now there is one sole keeper of an inside joke that no one will ever fully understand the funniness of. A unique perspective from this world is now gone, never again to be shared, and that is the harshness of grief.

Yet, we do laugh again, we do smile, we do find that although the colors of our world have faded-they do still exist. There are moments where we catch ourselves diving back into "life" again, and then we are caught altogether by the thought of "Matt will never see this again" and it brings us back. Why then are we forced to grieve? Why is it that we are allowed to pass through this harsh time yearning for our beloved and aching from our hurt? I believe that the simplest of answers is that this present time is not the fullness of the time to come. For now, we live in a time of the now, but not yet. Jesus has come. He has conquered death, but the fullness of his kingdom is not here yet. But we are promised that it is coming. We are promised that the victory shall be his. We are promised that death will be swallowed up forever. I look forward to that day. I look forward to the day of a new Heaven and a new Earth. One where there will be no more sorrow or mourning, but a day where we will worship the King in his fullness in the way that he has always intended for us. I do look forward to that day and I'm thankful. Thank you Lord that this is not the end. Thank you Lord that we are not here today and gone forever. Thank you Lord that you have a plan, have always had a plan, and that despite all of our shortcomings, you love us enough to complete your plan.

Isaiah 25:
1 LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.
2 You have made the city a heap of rubble,
the fortified town a ruin,
the foreigners’ stronghold a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
cities of ruthless nations will revere you.
4 You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall
5 and like the heat of the desert.
You silence the uproar of foreigners;
as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

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