This old familiar feeling rises and finds its place again today. It's the feeling of deepest loss. It's remembering how my very foundation was rocked to its core. The way my world suddenly felt unsteady without him. Without my father.
Tonight I will stand by my dear friend, Suzanne, at her father's memorial service and, being all too well aquainted with the kind of loss she feels, I will want to make it better for her. And I will know that I can't. Only time and God's grace can do that.
Today, I write for Suzanne and for all who hurt in the wake of losing a dear one. Maybe that's you. Maybe it's someone you know and this will help you to understand, to offer something soothing. And if you don't need this now, put it away for later because some day you will. Death is inevitable.
These feelings that come in the wake of loss are a lot like waves in the ocean. Sometimes they are tsunamis that crash down on us with overwhelming sadness. Other times, they are gentle laps of lovely current that caress our hearts and joyfully keep the memory of our loved ones alive. There's no predicting which way the ocean will strike your shore, but the tsunamis eventually become fewer and less severe. The gentle lapping becomes even more beautiful.
I lost both of my parents and my father-in-law in the span of eighteen months. To say it was a difficult time is the epitome of understatement. But in the midst of that stranglehold of darkness, God was good. He always is. He showed himself in miraculous ways, revealing the tissue-paper-thin layer between Heaven and earth. And He gave me friends and family who were like twinkling starlight that lit my way.
One of those, my cousin-in-law, Kathy, sent me this beautiful verse as grief was crashing down on me. It was balm for my soul. Her timing was, no doubt, Divine. Today, I hope it is also balm for Suzanne and for you or someone you know who is struggling in the darkness of loss. May these words soothe you:
I am standing on the seashore. A ship spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. I stand watching her until she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says, "She is gone." Gone where? The loss of sight is in me, not in her. Just at the moment when someone says, "She is gone," there are others who are watching her coming. Other voices take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!" That is dying. --Henry Scott Holland
I read those words four years ago as I sprinkled flowers in turquoise ocean waters that my mother would have loved. With the sun warming my face, wet with tears, I imagined her crossing to the other side. The better side. I imagined my father and her parents enthusiastically cheering her arrival. I imagined God himself welcoming her Home. It pulled me from my loss to her gain.
And when my missing of those I love overshadows my better, selfless knowing of where they are, and sadness flows down my cheeks, I remember these wise words of Kahlil Gibran:
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Our tears show the truth of our hearts and the depth of our sadness is often directly proportionate to the depth of our love. Tonight, our tears will flow for dear Tom, who was a delight to many of us. Especially his daughter, Suzanne and his wife, Betty.
May they, and may you, take comfort when the pain of loss has you in its grip. May God show Himself in amazing ways and may you have a deep and certain knowing that the one you love is Home, welcomed with joyful cheering and Heavenly love. And may we, on the sidelines of loss, be patient. Be kind. My friend's process is not necessarily my own. There is no right. No wrong. No prescribed timeline. Just grief and healing. Eventually.
In the meantime, the dark time, may you know that Love lives on.