Every living creature here on Earth will experience both life and death. It’s all part of a kind of “predetermined package.” And the more sophisticated creatures such as humans and parrots will also experience the emotion of grief when a loved one dies. My owner’s recently been grieving after the passing of a special friend. He has absolutely no doubt that his friend is now in Heaven, free from all pain and discomfort, and yet he still grieves. Why should that be? Is he being selfish? Or is his faith not as strong as he makes out?
There’s a kind of irony in the relationship between grief and love. Because as Christians, we are expected to love one another. Love forms the very essence of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But the more love we carry inside ourselves, the more we are leaving ourselves open to the emotion of grief. The two go hand in hand. And grief is indiscriminate. It affects everyone irrespective of whether they have a Christian faith or not. Just as William Shakespeare once said:
“Every one can master grief but he that has it.” (William Shakespeare).
Jesus knew all about the emotion of grief. When Lazarus has apparently died, and his sister Mary is in the grip of grief, Jesus Himself wells up:
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…Jesus wept…” (John 11:33-35).
Grief is the price that all of us on Earth must pay for the blessing of love. Even that old favourite amongst parrots, -Winnie The Pooh -realised this as he was saying his final farewells to Christopher Robin in the Enchanted Forest…
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” (Winnie The Pooh: A.A. Milne).
Prior to this, Christopher Robin reminds us all that we can surprise ourselves by the way we handle separation and grief:
“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember: you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is even if we’re apart….I’ll always be with you.” (Christopher Robin: A.A. Milne).
People we love help to mould and to shape us. They leave a lasting impression, and they leave us with memories. And for Christians, these memories help to bridge the gap until we are once more reunited with those that we miss.
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no-one will take away our joy.” (John 16:22).
“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2).