Not long ago, my best friend passed away. It seems that grief takes on a different meaning with each loved one I lose, as well as my age when it occurs.
As a pre-teen, my grandfather died of a heart attack. Pain struck, swift and sure. Yet, I was able to bounce back in a fairly short time. Years later, my father went to be with the Lord. His death was sudden, and his absence was hard to accept. For a long time, I kept looking at his favorite chair expecting to see him.
My husband's death broke all previous records for hurt. Although he was sick for 14 months, the intensity stunned me. The vision of a paperdoll ripped in two embedded in my mind. For a time, all I wanted was for the Lord to take me as well. As more people I loved departed this life, my homesickness for heaven grew.
This recent loss was so unexpected that it took on a surreal quality. I'd talked to her a few days before. How could she be gone? The messages she left on my answering machine were full of life. Yet, I could no longer email her with a funny story or make plans for a visit. A gaping hole was left where she prayed for me, gave advice, and shared life events.
As the Lord began healing my broken heart, I thought about how I could incorporate the different stages of mourning into my writing. It's one thing to look at the panorama of loss with the naked eye and quite another to see things under the magnification of personal experience. Here are a few things I learned:
1. The variety of emotions and thoughts that went through my head defied all logic. Although I knew each of them were with the Lord and the separation was temporary, it changed my way of life.
2. We'd built relationships, lived life together, created memories. After they departed, those things brought pain because that chapter closed. Only as the Lord brought new connections and new memories did those times once again bring joy and laughter.
3. I understood how someone losing a mate ran the risk of dying within a few years. Grief left unchecked can sap the will to live. Indeed, I almost joined him within the first year.
I came to terms with these losses, each so individual and affecting me on various levels. God had me here for a purpose. My life belonged to Him, and I would move forward until my earthly sojourn completed its course.
Writers and Readers: How have fictional stories affected your view of death and dying? Have you found comfort in the midst of pain? Please share.
Photo credit: Vincitrice