Tag Archive | suffering

Grief…

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I’ve talked about grief before. The grinding, end-of-world kind of grief that shatters lives. No promises are made to contrary – the one thing we can all know is that there will be pain,, hardship, suffering. The best we can hope for is that we might be spared it for long enough to reach our adult years unscathed…

But all too often, that’s not the way it goes; recently, I attended the funeral of a friend who had died suddenly while on a kite surfing holiday in Morocco. Apparently he’d just sat down on the beach at the end of a fabulous day of doing what he loved, had a massive heart attack and was found dead some time afterwards. The funeral was a heartbreaking exposure of the grief of his much loved wife and their three teenage children.

In the crematorium and at the reception afterwards, there was one word hanging over us all, often unspoken, but, none-the-less ever present… ‘why?’

Why do our loved ones get taken at what, so often, seems to be the peak of their life?

To the best of our knowledge, my friend was healthy and had everything to live for; he had been vibrant with energy and zest for living. He was loved and needed.

shutterstock_182053358Among his friends and family, the question ‘why?’ was followed by largely unspoken accusations against the capricious God who had stolen their loved one away without just cause or warning; others saw it as unwelcome proof of the absence of a god at all.

As a Christian, those that know me, and know my reliance on Jesus Christ, will at some point ask me all the questions and point some of the accusations that they are burdened with in my direction. I have no answers except this…

Along with all the much wiser people who have gone before me, I have no explanations for suffering and the brutalities of loss. All I know is that Jesus Christ never claimed, for one moment, that a life in His presence would be a life unburdened by hardship (John 16 v33), though He did promise to bring us comfort to help us bear it all (Matthew 11 v28).

And of one thing, I’m absolutely sure – I wouldn’t want to go through any of the pain that I see in my friend’s family – and that, at other times, I’ve experienced in my own – without Jesus by my side, bringing me comfort, lighting my way, and making my feet more secure on the craggy rocks of life.

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Today is a sad, sad day…

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In January this year, I wrote about Marcus, our extremely characterful Maine Coon cat. He has given plenty of warning that his time was coming to an end, and at sixteen years old, we didn’t feel that his life was being cut unreasonably short. But, when he started to lose weight, I took him for a trip to the vet to check that there was nothing we were missing, and was told that he had a heart murmur, a sizeable growth in his large intestine and thyroid issues. Basically, Marcus was not in any pain, but he was going to die and there was nothing we could do.

So, he continued to be firmly in charge of our home until the very last. He became more and more fussy about what he ate and lost more weight accordingly, until, in the last few weeks, he had become a shadow of his former self, sleeping more and more, but never showing any signs of distress or discomfort.

We had been so anxious that he shouldn’t suffer, on tenterhooks as we watched his every move for signs that he might be in distress – ready to step in and do the humane thing. But we needn’t have worried, our gentle, sociable, generous feline had it all under control.

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He remained highly sociable to all and sundry, enjoying attention and loving strokes and being scratched under the chin – full of purrs right until the end. Yesterday, he made sure he spent some time with everybody he needed to, and then he spent last night on my lap, not sleeping much, just being.

This morning he was found in his favourite spot in front of the wood burner. Peacefully hogging the fire until the end.

Among the confusion of grief, relief that he went so peacefully and the aching hole now that he’s gone, there tends to be a niggling question as to whether loving someone or something is worth the pain of loss at the end.

And of course, we know the answer:

Love is a messy, bumpy, beautiful, scary, joyful, painful road.

Without it life wouldn’t be worth the ride.