My cousin passed away yesterday. Even though we knew it was coming, even though we had the opportunity to see him when we were in the States last October, this still hit me harder than I expected.
I just felt a connection to Dave, I don’t really know why. It wasn’t really the kind of thing you talked about, but it was there.
It could be my earliest memories of him, at Grandma & Grandpa’s house. When Dave would drive up, someone would always call out, “Dave and Vonja are here!” You could just tell everyone was happy they had arrived, so of course, you were, too.
Perhaps it was that he was my oldest cousin, a grown man with a wife (a beautiful wife, too, which even little kids think is a good idea :)). He was one of the adults, while I was a little kid, but he never made me feel beneath him. Everyone in our extended family treated us little ones well, but with Dave and Vonja it was somehow different.
Perhaps it was that they always seemed happy, happy to see us, but mainly just happy, they always seemed to “have it together.” Perhaps it was that they were just genuinely nice people, and you didn’t feel like they were trying to be nice, they just were.
Perhaps it was that his dad, my Uncle “Ted”, was a hero who died in the Pacific Theatre. That kind of thing is important to young boys (even when we get older). Perhaps it was that my older brother, who died in infancy, bore that same name, a name we eventually gave to our son Theron.
Maybe it was none of those things. Sometimes, there are people who you just like, that you just connect with, for no real reason. Maybe it was that, and all of those other things, put together. Who can say how and why it is that we feel the way we do about another person?
Grief is a tribute of honour to the loved one that is gone.
There is nothing wrong with grief. If we didn’t love, if we didn’t value the person who is gone, we wouldn’t grieve. It isn’t the grief that is bad, it is the loss that is bad. Grief is an honourable and honouring response to loss. I’ve said this many times to others, and now it is my turn.
God sends grief to teach us when loss comes, for it brings many valuable lessons:
- To value human life and human love
- To heighten our awareness of human frailty, including our own
- To hate sin, the first cause of death and sorrow in God’s perfectly created world
- To remind us of the need to prepare for the next life
- To rejoice in the hope of a world to come where there is no grief or sorrow
- To teach us the value of comfort as we encounter others who grieve
Grief is a good and powerful teacher, when loss comes into our life. When we live the Christian life as the Bible teaches, we accept (and even embrace) grief as a teacher, but it will not rule us, for our God is the God of all comfort. In Christ, we have a hope reserved in a safe place which grief can never touch, guaranteed by the God who (for now) gives grief, but has promised eternal victory over every cause of grief.
I Peter 1:3-5
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.