Happy New Year…? In the previous post I wrote about a number of people who have died in recent weeks and that there may be another death before Christmas. In the event, three more passed away before the year did the same… John, Carolyn and David.
The last mentioned was Jane’s uncle. He was the final one of the ‘parental siblings’ – that generation of our respective parents, uncles and aunts.
In the same way that when my Dad died, I had a sense of sailing in uncertain waters for a while, this latest death, although ‘a distant relative’ in one sense, who I did not know well, seems also to have cut some ties to the mooring: the stability of that (now lost) generation. His and the others mentioned last time have left, to misquote the title of a song by Pink Floyd, a feeling of being uncomfortably numb.
Like many, Jane and I are in the funeral generation and such periods of coping with loss will most likely become a more frequent occurrence (as they have in the past). The same may be true for you.
Grief is experienced in many different ways and shows itself at unexpected times and places also. We can remember the good things about the person we have lost (and, let’s be honest, the more difficult things too). We can reflect on what we wished we had done and said – and that we wished we hadn’t. We can feel love and fondness – and regret and anger. We can look at the hole the loss has left and wonder how we might fill it.
Through the characters in the story, Looking to Move On I explore some aspects of bereavement and include a quote from something I heard at some point: “The hole never gets smaller… But beautiful things grow around the edge of it.”
In the gospels we read of Jesus’ response to the (apparent) death of his friend Lazarus and how he wept at the news, and at the distress of Lazarus’ siblings and others (John 11). We get a sense of Jesus’ grief at the murder of John the Baptist when he took himself off in a boat to ‘a deserted place’ (Matthew 14). I also wonder about Jesus’ response to the death of Joseph, Mary’s husband. No doubt he lost many other friends during his life on earth – not least Judas Iscariot and the complexity of that situation. Grief is complex.
Yesterday, Jane and I went to the service for our dear friend, Mark. It was put together by Mark and his lovely wife, Grace and included this lovely prayer by John Donne which brings such comfort in such times:
Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening
into the house and gate of heaven,
to enter into that gate and dwell in that house,
where there shall be
no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light;
no noise nor silence, but one equal music;
no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession;
no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity:
in the habitations of thy majesty and glory,
world without end. Amen.
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