Loss, on a varying scale, is a daily occurrence in the routine of mankind. In a single day we can hear of everything from deaths in the thousands because of a natural disaster to the discovery of the body of a missing child to the unexpected passing of a beloved pet. How does one appropriately manage the grieving?
I was pondering this more than usual over the past week. In a matter of days a pet rabbit died, a pet bird escaped, a friend’s dog died, another friend’s grandma died, and the usual slew of deaths and disasters filled the news headlines. I wanted to weep for my animals but it seemed a little extreme compared to the tragedies of lost human lives, or even a friend’s dog. Yet I felt sad just the same and I was frustrated by the quandry of grief. How does one quantify loss?
I believe we grieve for two reasons: our loss and our appeasement. When a loved being departs from our life, for whatever reason, there is an immense void left in our hearts. The schedules, traditions, affections, security, and fulfillment that came from the relationship have been ended and we have lost a part of ourselves. We grieve for our loss. It does not matter if that loss was from a human or animal, we are empty just the same and therefore we must mourn.
Along with the loss, we may also be filled with regret or guilt for the times when we didn’t cultivate our side of the relationship. Perhaps we were disloyal, negligent, or even mean. There may have been innumerable opportunities to spend more time with that loved one and instead we chose to do our own thing. Now that being is gone and we don’t have a second chance to make things right. We grieve to show how much we really did care and we grieve to assuage the pain of remorse.
It is for these reasons that we often can’t, or don’t, mourn for days over the myriads of people dying across the globe every day. We didn’t have a relationship with these people and though we regret their suffering, we simply are not physically able to grieve for them as we would our own family member. The same is true if your fish and your dog die on the same day. There may be sadness over the fish, but there will probably be lengthy mourning about the dog. The relationships were different.
No matter who or what it is that is causing you to mourn today, do not let it distract you from the number one relationship in your life – the one between you and your Savior. Yes, take time to weep, reflect, and relive the beautiful memories you made with the one who just passed. Mourn your loss and grieve over the memories you never did make. But don’t stay there. Remember that God has your here for a reason and He left you on this earth a little bit longer than one who passed because He wants to use you to make this world a better place – in memory of your loved one and in honor of Him.
Death is unnatural; weep when it touches your life and feel sorrow when it touches the life of another. But use it to draw you and others closer to the One who gives eternal life.