Anxiety hung in the air and filled the school. Walking the hallways, the student’s faces told the story of late night cramming and last-minute papers.
I had just two students preparing for exams in my tiny room. Between review questions on the Civil war and the Carbon cycle, I realized the sad bond we all shared: each of us lost a parent this year. We each would celebrate the Holidays missing one of the most significant people in our lives. And although their exams were still important, remembering death, once again, put life into focus. Experiencing the pain of our individual yet similar losses, each would struggle and mourn in our own way. And even as I grieve for myself, my heart breaks for these dear young souls and others like them.
Husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, grandparents, grandchildren– will all struggle in some way or another to cope with family gatherings and well-wishing and too much food and both meaningless and meaningful gifts and all that accompanies Christmas in our culture. Hurting hearts in desperate need of relief and yet, there’s no relief from the pain of grief. You simply have to walk through it and experience it. You can’t reason it way or stuff it away or smile it away or wish it away or pray it away or even cry it away. The hurt and grief will be there until they’re not anymore–or so I’ve been told by others. But I know that experiencing the hurt and pain doesn’t show a lack of faith or a screwed-up perspective. Walking through it, pain and all, is the only way to heal.
Words from Isaiah 57 bring me some peace this morning as I travel my own journey and pray for those making their way along their own path of grief:
Good people pass away;
the godly often die before their time.
But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand
that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
For those who follow godly paths
will rest in peace when they die…
I will comfort those who mourn
bringing words of praise to their lips.
May they have abundant peace, both near and far,”
says the Lord, who heals them.