Never in our lives do we expect the pain of loss of a loved one at such a young age. It is a reality we are all to prepared to face when the time comes; when old age has finished its work and the body has reached the last of its strength. Then we are prepared, then we are ready, and for those of us who have the great misfortune of watching that loved one waste away their death seems a necessary and welcomed end to the suffering of old age and the wearing of time. It is the breath of relief, the climactic end to a life well lived and a life entered into eternity.
But to lose someone so suddenly, so abruptly without warning or pretense, without the faintest moment of preparation just long enough to draw the breath before the blow, is the deepest pain I believe one may ever know.
One week ago today, my father passed away. In an instant, where once there was a man so full of life, of passion, of warmth and laughter; there remains in his place a shell, a memory of a man so near and dear to us all.
I’ve been trying to take comfort in the Scriptures; in various passages from books and authors I love.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mat 5:4). Meaning, as F.W. Boreham explains so eloquently, blessed are those who feel. Blessed are those who have not grown desensitized to pain; who have not grown cold and void of emotion but find healing in their times of weeping, or the moments of confusion and anger.
A sermon my friend Daniel preached plays continuously in my mind on the Book of Job, the story alone a testament to a heart so trusting in the Lord despite the circumstances of pain and loss. He tells us that Jesus identifies with our pain. The Lord tells me “I identify with your pain. I have felt the very aching of your heart and I have shed your tears of sorrow. I have felt the anger of having to lose someone so undeserving of death, whose young life was taken so early and unfairly. I know your pain, I know your grief to every extent of its reach and the very depths of your soul.”
It’s hard to say I’ve truly grieved yet. I’ve had moments where the pain has welled up and I cry for a time. The first time walking into the house, greeted by such love and support from friends who had rushed to us without hesitation, I broke and found myself in the laundry room unable to breathe, and unable to stand. There was no holding in the flood of tears then. Apart from those instances, in the business and preoccupation with funeral arrangements or for me the comfort of writing to distract my mind, the only feeling I have is numb.
Dave meant more to me than I could ever express in words. He was so big; in every way, not just in stature but in life, in personality, in love – nothing he did was ever small or insignificant. He taught me so much, he fought for me when I needed someone to, he cherished me, he showed me what a heart in love with Christ looks like, and how to be that life for others. Dave took the brokenness of our family, and married us together making us whole for the first times in years. He treated my sisters and I as his own, he loved my mother immeasurably – I’ve never seen her smile more than when she was with him. He exemplified so fully what it means to be “salt” and “light” for the Kingdom of God, bringing light and laughter into every room he entered, always seeking to make people laugh. He has left a void in all our lives and while there is no person that could ever fill it, there is a God who is bigger than all things; a God who better than anyone ever could, identifies with the hurt, with the emptiness that we are left with. In Him I take refuge.
We grieve as those who have hope in Christ Jesus, knowing that someday we will see him again.
I return continuously to this passage, taking comfort in the words:
“The soul is liable to great volcanic processes. There come to it tragic and tremendous hours when all its depths are broken up, all its landmarks shattered, and all its streams turned rudely back. For weal or for woe everything is suddenly and strangely changed. Amidst the crash of ruin and the loss of all, the soul sobs out its pitiful lament. ‘Everything has gone!’ it cries. ‘I can never be the same again! I can never get over it!’ But Time is a great healer. His touch is so gentle that the poor patient is not conscious of its pressure. The days pass, and the weeks, and the months, and the years. Like the trees that start from the rocky faces, and the ferns that creep out of every cranny in the ruined horizon, new interests steal imperceptibly into life. There come new faces, new loves, new thoughts, and new sympathies. The heart responds to fresh influences and bravely declines to die. And whilst the days that are dead are embalmed in costliest spices, and lie in the most holy place of the temple of memory, the soul discovers with surprise that it has surmounted the cruel shock of earlier shipwreck, and can once more greet the sea.”
Thank you all for the overwhelming flood of grace and love upon me and my family. I have been more humbled, and more blessed in the past week that I cannot fully express my gratitude to have such deep and steadfast friendships as I do; that in my hurt and pain and sorrow they rise up to hold me, and comfort me, and grieve with me. I am forever thankful for each and every one of you.