Faith Reflections

Grief

I’ve been grieving hard for my sweet sister since returning home from Kenya. It caught me by surprise. As is our nature, I’ve tried to rationalize and explain this unexpected wave of grief since her sudden passing four months ago. Perhaps the exhaustion of travel or the weariness of being sick the past ten days. Maybe grief suppressed over back-to-back trips without space to weep. Perhaps these four months without her has given me a taste of a reality I do not want for my family and me. Most likely, it is all of the above. Or maybe none of it.

Grief is impervious to rationalization. Grief is not linear. It does not submit to plans, wishes, timelines, or reasoning. Grief is sometimes dormant, sometimes docile, and sometimes disturbed by the slightest scent, memory, or longing for what is no longer.

John Irving wrote, “When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”

These are the days of pieces and missing parts in perhaps their rawest state.

Not surprising, God has been with me and ahead of me. I came home to an unusual amount of cards and sympathy notes at home and work. I held each as evidence of Love at work, nudging others to plant a seed that God would bloom when needed.

For now, grief is a somewhat constant companion. In time, her visits won’t last as long, which brings mixed emotions. But I’m learning you never know when she’ll show up for an unexpected visit. No warning. Just right there beside you on the couch.

I pray I will welcome grief each time with grace and compassion, for she was born from love and persists because of love much more than loss. Perhaps love is the only rationalization for grief needed.

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