It’s been a little over a year since my dad passed away from a long battle with cancer, but there still comes times and places where the pain of his loss suddenly jump up out of nowhere. For instance, last week I was over to the house helping my mom get the camping trailer ready for winter. It wasn’t a big job and didn’t take too long. However, right in the middle of this I just got angry – angry that my dad wasn’t with us anymore. Now, I wasn’t mad because I was doing his work – as I said, it wasn’t a big job. And I’m not quite sure where my anger was directed. I know it wasn’t directed at God, but I think it was just some kind of general, free-floating anger directed at the cosmos in general. And almost as quickly as it came, it went. Not, though, without setting an emotional stamp over the rest of the day.
As a pastor I know all about the stages of grief and that one never really gets totally over a significant loss. But ‘knowing’ something and ‘living’ it out can sometimes be two different things. My faith gives me the confidence that my dad, a believer, is in heaven and that gives me comfort and joy. Yet, there is still a hole left by my dad that will never get filled, it will only heal over and become part of who I am. And this is why I really dislike the word ‘closure’ that used so flippantly some times in regards to grief. I think the concept of ‘closure’ (as it is generally understood by the populace) gives people a false hope that this pain, this hole in their hearts will someday completely heal over. I wonder if this ‘false bill of goods’ is what causes so many people to become damaged by their grief and pain. When you expect the pain to go away and it never does, I would suppose that that would just add to your pain and anxiety (‘What’s wrong with me?’, ‘Why do I still miss him/her?’)
God gives us the strength to continue on and the hope and comfort of eternal life. These are things that form the foundation of our ‘healing’. But ‘healing’ is not the same as a physical wound (scab over then gone), it remains with us and adds to the person that we are. This is not a bad thing. This is life and with God’s strength and grace we will endure and grow stronger and deeper in our faith.