I’m grieving the loss of a dear friend. Linda died unexpectedly two weeks ago. In the two and a half years she lived here, our lives became delightfully interwoven. I miss her breathless voice, charged with sweet energy; Linda was interested in people and learning about everything. I find myself looking for her at the gym, at church, in the community. I’ll miss her poems and devotionals in our writer’s group—always reveling in God, nature, and her beloved ocean she waited a lifetime to live near.
She entered the room with an unhurried gait and expansive smile. She’d cock her head to the side in way that said, “I’m delighted to see you.” She knew what to say to melt away feelings of failure and discouragement. She used her gift of massage and healing arts to bless whenever she could.
Even though I know she’s with our beloved Savior, whom she served with wholehearted devotion, it still hurts that she’s gone. I know we have heaven to look forward to, but I do grieve, especially when I see her husband of 36 years without her by his side.
We weave randomly through the stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—never knowing when the next wave will hit or for how long. We find comfort in memories, sharing stories, pouring over pictures, and cherish items she gave us. Guilt rears its ugly head, over what should have been said or done, or not said or done. And we wish for just one more cup of coffee, or walk on the beach, or laughter filled moment with her.
If you have lost a loved one recently, you know what I mean. Death is the unblinking enemy of our souls, intent on shredding our faith with sorrow.
Today, between the cross and the resurrection, I think of Jesus’ disciples. Their grief was raw and inconsolable. Jesus was not just their dearest friend with whom they had shared life and ministry for three years. He was the One they’d hoped for all their lives. But now He was gone. Had they misunderstood?
They had failed Him at the end. They ran away, denied Him. Paralyzed by fear, they were unable to stop the tide of hatred that turned against Him. So many regrets. Confusion. Despair.
Did they isolate themselves as we have a tendency to do? Did they sob uncontrollably at the sight of the towel He used, or the basket He touched, and remember His boundless love? Some, busied themselves on Friday, wrapping his body with spices and linen for burial in the tomb, but then what? Then the terrible day of enforced rest on the Sabbath when their grief hit full force.
By Sunday, Jesus’ followers were together, attempting to console one another; figure out what to do next. Their hopes of rescue by the Redeemer of Israel were crushed. But He worked miracles, healed lepers, raised the dead, put the religious leaders in their place. His words promised hope, life, a new kingdom where God would reign supreme. And yet He walked right into their trap—He seemed determined to give His life away! They just couldn’t understand it.
If it wasn’t for Easter Sunday, their grief would have taken them under, and there would be no comfort for ours. But Sunday changed everything! When Jesus strode from the tomb and showed up at their gathering, their grief dissolved into gales of astonished laughter.
We weep in the night, but joy comes on Easter morning and can never be snuffed out again. Jesus’ resurrection conquered sin and despair, and gives us a new perspective on death. “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever” (Isa. 30:11-12).
Today may be sad and foreboding, as we remember the Son of God in a dark and silent tomb, while His followers cried in agony. But tomorrow we celebrate—because Jesus is Risen!
#deathanddying #disciplesgrief #beforeJesusresurrection #stagesofgrief #Saturdayofholyweek