Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Death in the Family Erases Happy Occasion

     Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday! It should have been a happy occasion, but sometimes, happiness and sadness collide, leaving one with a confused mind, a weary soul and a broken heart. How can you be happy about one occurrence when another is breaking your heart? By last night, all celebratory feelings were wiped away by a death in our family. Even though we’ve known for a while that this one was coming, the reality is no less heartbreaking! Everyone reading this knows the feeling.
    Happiness and sadness seem to meet face-to-face a lot in our family! My mother was laid to rest on my eldest son’s birthday, tainting his birthday, just a little, forever.
    My son had a serious, life-threatening operation on a favorite aunt’s birthday. I’ll never forget her reaction. Late that night, after my son was in ICU, safe and sound, we came home to get a little rest. I had bought Aunt Betty a birthday cake and had it waiting in the fridge, thinking we’d have a piece of cake together and observe her birthday quietly. However, she said, “Let’s postpone it. Somehow, it doesn’t seem right to celebrate right now.” I agreed, hugged her and we went to bed so we could rise early and head back to the hospital.
    We’ll never be able to celebrate any of these birthdays without remembering the dreadful thing that happened on the same day.
     However, once the pain of loss begins to soften, perhaps we can remember that death, too, should be a sort of celebration. Our loved one is no longer in pain: he or she is released into a beautiful world with a perfect body. Why should we not be happy about that?
     Of course, it’s difficult now. The pain is fresh, we still see the face we loved and hear the familiar voice, but this is where God proves that He doesn’t give us more than we can bear. We begin to remember things this person did or said to make us laugh; our friends remind us of the good things they did; all sorts of memories we thought we’d forgotten come flooding back and we find that we are able to laugh though we may have thought we’d never laugh again, and remembering them with laughter makes us feel a little better.
      Is it possible that the laughter we accumulate in our souls makes the tears easier to bear?
     Think about it.          
       When we lose someone we love, we often search for memories of that person that make us laugh. This gives us permission not to grieve so totally, but to find a little gladness in an agonizing event. We don’t have to reason it out. We just do it.

How amazingly resilient God has made us!