The last 24 hours have left a lot of our town's residents not only speechless, but shocked, heart-broken and grieving. It never ceases to amaze me about how death in our realm of conversation, even in the church - world, seems so hypothetical. As Christians we talk about, "do you know where you'd spend eternity if you died today," and none of us ever really think about dying today. Afterall, we have our whole lives ahead of us... whatever 'whole' means.
So once again here we are, I included, left shocked, speechless and grieving, trying not only to wrap my mind and my heart around the loss of such a young man, loved by so many, but also trying to wrap my heart and mind around death in and of itself.
It is during times like these that we look at our reflections in the mirror and wonder if in a week our reflection will still be here to be seen. It's when we look at our families and find them precious and more incredible than ever before. It's looking at death as something so unfamiliar... there are none of us here that have experienced it ourselves. No one knows what eternity looks like. What did he see as he left this world and moved on to the next?
Then I try to wrap my mind around how the family could possibly feel... I mean, really? I cannot imagine losing my brother, who is 12 years older than me and we've never been very close. I cannot imagine losing an uncle, especially one who had lived in my house and I so much adored from birth forward. Mostly, as a parent, I cannot imagine losing my child. Our kids our supposed to bury us, not the other way around! For such a loss to happen so suddenly, so unexpectedly, how do you begin to grieve.
I cannot wrap my head around this. I've tried. I can't imagine the agony and trying to function and even how you would ever really sleep again. I can't imagine when you can laugh again, or when or if your life could ever feel 'right.'
It's only by the grace and mercy of Jesus to carry us through that these things ever happen. It's not in our nature to make them happen on our own.
Then I got to thinking about words. What words do you ever offer a family as 'condolences?' I thought of all of the regulars: 'So sorry for your loss,' 'I'll pray for you,' 'If you need anything let us know,' 'He's in a better place,' etc, and all I could think of is how, if the shoe was on the other foot, how, although I am very sorry for their loss, and I would be willing to help them with anything, that these words aren't nearly enough to convey my sympathy for them. What I really want to say is:
Your loss has been so dear to my heart that I thought of you all night last night. I prayed for you for such a great time last night as I laid down in my bed that I finally fell asleep crying for the pain your family must be in. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of you and couldn't go back to sleep, so I continued praying for you then. I've continued to think of you all day. My heart feels heavy and my stomach feels sick for the pain I can't personally understand, but that I know is so very real to you. I've hugged and kissed on my son more than I ever have before today, and I'm so very grateful for this baby kicking inside and making me miserable. What an incredible blessing.
And despite all of the pain I feel for your family, despite the time I've spent thinking about your reality, despite the grief I share with you, I know, without doubt, that your own pain and grief go infinitely deeper than I could ever imagine or understand aside from being in the same situation myself, and for that I feel even deeper sorrow. I'm sorry seems so shallow, but I am so immensely sorry that I feel physical pain in my chest. You are not alone...
And despite all efforts... those words aren't even enough.
Silence and tears seem more appropriate...
All of that being said - I pray that we all love our loved ones a little deeper, seek after Jesus even harder, and continue praying for peace, comfort and healing, in response to such a sudden loss.