It’s been a few weeks now since we buried my father-in-law.
Though we’ve always felt the geographical distance between our family and my in-laws, it doesn’t compare to the distance that death creates. For years he was far away. But now he’s no longer within reach. And that’s what hurts so bad.
Grief is a funny thing. The sadness comes in waves, sometimes gently lapping at your feet throughout the day… other times, hitting you like a tsunami – a wall of water that crashes into your heart and leaves its mark in a tear-stained face.
In reflecting on our time of loss, I suppose what surprises me most about the whole thing is that death still surprises.
Strange, isn’t it? Aside from the one Man death couldn’t hold onto, everyone who is born dies. It’s that simple. And yet, we’re still shocked, surprised, and baffled when the moment arrives.
In the hours before Corina’s dad died, we knew his time was short. We could see the signs of imminent death approaching – the stiffening of the legs, the cooling of his hands, and the rattling of his breath. Death is an ugly thing, especially when it comes after a disease like cancer has ravaged the body.
Though we knew the end was near, when death arrived and my father-in-law departed, it still came as something of a surprise. Is it true? Is he really gone? How can this be? Just moments ago, we were shifting him around in his bed, hoping to alleviate any pain. Now, we are preparing him for the coroner. In a flash… death is in the room and life has disappeared.
No matter how much you prepare yourself, death still surprises.
Forget the worn-out maxim that “death is just a natural part of life.” Why try to suppress the surprise? Especially when everything in you screams, This isn’t right! This can’t be!
You’d think after thousands of years of observation, we’d be accustomed to death by now. But no… the love in our hearts doesn’t want to give death the last word.
Thankfully, we don’t have to.
The only thing more surprising than death is resurrection. It’s the future surprise that helps our hearts survive the present shock. The gaping hole in the ground that swallows up a body will one day be swallowed up by resurrection life.
Death’s victory is short-lived. Resurrection’s reign is forever.
And so, we grieve, but not as those with no hope. Winter’s chill may surprise us, but spring is coming.