Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Gift of Grief

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 251: Today, I am grateful for the gift of grieving. 

My favorite piece of homework I ever turned in was a comparison between US and Spanish cultures over death. It was for my Intercultural Communications class...the best class ever! Dr. David Kale was ahead of his time and brilliant ( I might be biased as I am a big fan of the guy). He challenged us to look beyond our limited cultural myopia...tunnel see a bigger view of the world. I chose a comparison paper on death. I had know idea how valuable the things I learned in that research would be later in my life. Death is unavoidable. Loss... if we love... is inevitable. 

Years ago, our culture embarrassed grief. To mourn is to experience the deep emotion when a loved one dies. In the United States, death was managed at home until the mid-1800's. The change occurred when many families who lost loved ones in the War Between the States wanted loved ones returned home. 

A customary mourning season, that required mourning clothing, came with immigrants from many cultures and experiences. The traditional black mourning clothing for a year after a loved one's death is a rich part of our history. In some places in Europe, some widows wear black after the loss of a spouse until death.(I can't help but think of the Grandma in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".) It was a way to embrace a loss, declare to the world that "my life has had significant loss" and perhaps even strangers would find a little extra grace for those they could physically see were in mourning. 

I suspect that giving up this very visual declaration of loss, we have lost so much more. Mourning season placed restrictions on dress and behavior. I think, if we did the research, we would find that at the end of the season - the mourners were ready for some color in their clothes and some living. Life would never be "the same", but whatever it was, they were ready to live it. 

The mourning season we valuable. It provided time to cry the tears and talk about the loved one. It prevented rushed "remarriages" . (A quick remarriage... when it is a good match...  can be great for the widow/widower, but it can be rough on the kids and extended family.) 

For my family, the weeks between August 26th and September 11th are rich with reminders of birth, life, gifts, and loss. It seems to continue. April died August 26th...but September 2 is the birth date of the sister God granted me by my brother's choice.  In the past month, our community has lost two children... one this week.  A friend and neighbor has lost her husband. Our community still feels the loss of a teacher and coach... as two years is not too many that we have forgotten. And, for is the day Jill took her first breath of heaven. Two years seems like an eternity and a blink at the same time. 

Dad's birthday is just around the corner...September 11th. His 4th one in heaven. He loved this farmer's scripture and taught us to live by it. It contains so much of Solomon's God given wisdom. 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Death is a part of living. It adds a unique fiber to the fabric of our lives. To love so deeply you feel nearly crippled by the loss is to know that you have known a deep, true and abiding love. Not once in my life would I have given back the blessings, the love and  the richness of the relationships to avoid the tears of losing a loved one to death. Not once! 

For the believer...death really loses it's sting, but we still miss them. Jesus wept for Lazarus... and Mary and Martha's sorrow. I have often wondered if part of his grief was that he was calling Lazarus back from the wonders of heaven, where he would have soon joined him. 

Jesus instructed John to take care of his mother. He recognized and understood her grief. He was about to die on a cross, but his heart grieved for his mother's pain. Watching a loved one suffer..for those who have been there... know that there is a heavenly healing that comes when death arrives. It is heaven's door. Yet, we have so many euphemism's. have been created. 

Jesus conquered death so we only feel the shadow. But, while in the shadow, we need comfort and time to learn and to lean. He is our hiding place. Grief is not a curse. It is evidence of a love and a life well lived. 

Today, I am grateful for the gift of grieving. 

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