Grief hurts! It doesn’t matter if it comes suddenly or after someone has suffered with a terminal illness or after someone has lived 100 years on Earth – it hurts! It hurts because we love each other and miss each other. It hurts because we selfishly want to keep that person with us and not let go.
Since we’ve returned to Cameroon in November 2012, we’ve been directly affected by ten deaths here and two deaths we’ve mourned afar. I remember reading in a book written by a missionary serving abroad that when one mourns from afar the grief usually doesn’t fully hit that person until they return to their home country and experience the first gathering where that person isn’t present.
Grief is handled differently by each person and is handled differently by each culture. Grief is cultural. In our passport country, although we don’t have great words to say, we have been taught by watching, listening, experiencing while growing up, words to convey sympathy to someone who has lost a loved one or that we would receive from someone expressing their sympathy to us. Don’t get me wrong, there is no way to make someone feel less pain when mourning the loss of someone they loved, especially through words. It’s difficult to know what words to use with our Cameroonian friends to express our sympathy in a way that is received as sympathy. The way funerals are conducted, memorial services, burials are all completely different than in our passport country. When emotions are raw, it’s hard to grasp a learning curve of that magnitude.
We lost a friend and co-worker on February 4th. We are in the midst of mourning. Because of the scope of David’s position, he doesn’t get to have downtime because he’s the one turned to for answers about logistical things that need to be accomplished. This has been difficult for David as it is the fourth death since returning from furlough that he has had to assist with the various logistics, including taking his friend and co-worker to the morgue.
We know the promises we have from the Bible, we know that our friends and loved ones are in heaven. I’ll never forget something a friend shared after he lost his beloved wife. He said he knew the extreme depth of her love for him and their children, however, it hit him during a drive that if she had to choose between returning to be with her family or staying in her eternal home, she would choose her eternal home. I’m also reminded of a song, written by a friend that speaks of golden streets and how on golden streets we’ll be free. We know we live in a fallen world and because of that, there will be death, but we have the promise that in heaven there will be no more death. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:4
It does bring comfort and a smile to think of those who are in their eternal homes, dancing on golden streets in uninhibited freedom!