Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Grief & Loss

I’ve spent much of my time these days with the grieving, the dying, and those awaiting test results to confirm or deny their fit into one of those categories. I suppose what I have observed has been written about before, but I can’t help trying to express it, hoping some improvement in our language has occurred so my musings won’t sound so pitifully trite. I guess that also means this might come across a little morbid.
To be with one who is near death or one who has experienced a loss is to walk on sacred ground. What can you say? I think all phrases beginning with “at least” should be prohibited in such circumstances. “At least it happened quickly.” “At least you got to say goodbye.” “At least she lived a full life.” “At least you were together for 60 years.”
How do you tell a man widowed after 60 years of marriage, “at least” anything? The only way he knows how to live is over. While we are still left in this world, there can be no consolation in that. So what is left for us to do?
While we have the promise of heaven to comfort us, I believe God doesn’t need us to make it OK. It’s not OK. The greatest gift we may be able to offer someone facing loss is to acknowledge its terribleness. If we can’t do that, we diminish the meaning of the experience. If we can, we may just be able to open the door for someone, and show them the amazing conclusion on the other side.

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