March 29, 2020: (un)Packing for the Journey: Grief

Fifth Sunday in Lent

It never occurred to me that the dead could pull us down, if we let them. And how easy it is to let them. My wife was far too young to die—of course she was. And it happened so unexpectedly, and so . . . what? Meaninglessly? Of course it did.

The busy-ness of the first weeks made it easier to hold myself together. There was so much to do. Papers to sign, arrangements to make, people to hug and cry with. But when the funeral was over and the last casserole was reheated, my world began to slow down. My days blurred into days and my nights into nights. I couldn’t sleep—and I couldn’t stop sleeping. I couldn’t work my job, couldn’t clean my house, couldn’t do laundry, couldn’t cook a meal. When I lost my wife, I lost my footing in the world. And, eventually, I lost myself.

Oh, God was there. God sent along the friends I needed, arranged the bills so they could be paid—and somehow got me through the darkest hours. In my head, I knew that God was with me—but in my heart . . . ? My heart was dead. The dead can pull us down—if we let them.

But I had to keep on living. And slowly I emerged from my grief. I can’t say exactly when—or how—but one day, I realized that it had been quite a while since I had felt that nagging sorrow. I realized that I had laughed! That I had truly enjoyed myself for an hour.

It never really goes away. But, in time, it gets better. Our God did not create us to live in the graves of our sorrows. To journey with him, we must learn to outlive our grief.

Reflections of a Moravian on John 11:1-45 (Lazarus)