My last post began with these words, Last week I buried my beloved father. Today begins as an echo from the depths of a heartbroken daughter,
Last week I buried my beloved mother.
Exactly one month separated my father’s departure into Glory from my mother’s.
Too much death. Too much sorrow. Too many tears shed.
Understandably, I feel a bit adrift. Unanchored. Too old and too surrounded by loving family to feel orphaned. But somehow changed.
I was still riding the swell of grief from my father’s passing. Trying to hold on and catch my breath as the great waves tossed me about. I make sense of the nurse’s words, you better come today, and realize that yet another wave is rising. It is gathering strength too quickly. There will be no turning back to shore. The wave crests and takes me under.
And I am undone all over again.
There is a great heaving of the spirit when you lose one you hold so dear. Incredulous, the spirit refuses to accept what the eye beholds. There is a grief that rises up from places unknown, deep within the recesses of the human spirit.
There is an emptiness, an aloneness that comes with the unmooring. It cries out for attention, threatening to be your constant companion throughout all the days of your mourning.
I think this is the picture of mourning with which we are most familiar. The desperate sense of aloneness. The sudden flow of tears. The piercing shards of a broken heart that resist any chance of being reassembled.
And the fear that it will always be thus.
Oh how the enemy of our soul wants us to stay locked in the pit of grief. Swallowed up in the finality of what was lost.
But what if my experience of grief can better be described as surprising peace than constant tears? Doesn’t it somehow feel disrespectful to move from anguish to peace in a matter of days? None of us needs permission to grieve. Unwelcomed, grief just comes as that great heaving of the spirit. But sometimes we feel we need permission to allow grief to move from the place of tears to the place of peace.
There is a sense that grief can be measured. That we can predict the dimension of its depth and calculate its length by marking time. That we ought to know what it should look like, and that anything else is not authentic. Perhaps the great enemy of God likes it this way.
But the unmooring is not the only legacy my beloved parents left their grieving daughter. They also left a legacy of hope. A hope that is strong enough to turn my grieving into rejoicing.
My parents were convinced that the shaking off of these earthly bodies meant the welcoming of an eternal body through which they would continue to offer praise and worship to their holy God. And because of that, I can rejoice that my parents are fully alive now with God. I can rejoice that they have been made new. I can rejoice that their suffering is over. I can rejoice that I will see them again. If this is their story, if this is their anthem, then my grief loses its weightiness. Grief loses its hold over me.
Their hope is my peace.
My house will resemble a flower shop for a little while longer. Gifts from dear friends sharing in my grief. But these beautiful gifts of the earth are no longer reminders to me of what the earth has swallowed up but are reminders of the new life my parents are now enjoying to the full.