Sometimes the saddest, most difficult thing is the most breathtakingly beautiful experience. Sometimes you go to work, casually turning on autopilot, when something sacred interrupts the mundane.
It wasn’t a surprise. When they say a disease is terminal, I know what to expect. He wasn’t family. But it sure feels like it now. The memories sting like shaving cream in a razor blade cut. The images and conversations play over and over in my mind. Where’s the line? Afterall, I’m a professional. But can a line be drawn when your mission is to love them like Christ loves? Because when you love, you give a piece of yourself away. It’s the loving part before that makes the grieving afterward so raw and exhausting. It’s like a floodgate opening the minute you let that first tear spill over your bottom eyelid.
I’ve had to remind myself over and over again, that sometimes it’s okay to cry. I’ve been known to cry…a lot, especially during Hallmark movies, but I always knew there was something deeper to my salty tears. Shauna Niequist said it so perfectly in her book, Bittersweet: “The ability to cry is a sign of health, because it means your body and your soul agree on something, and that what your soul is feeling, your body is responding to.” Like early that Monday morning. I wanted to take off my Nikes because I knew in that moment, I was in a holy place. Looking at a shell, a body, where a beautiful soul temporarily resided for 86 years, 3 months, and 19 days. As I sat with the family, unable and unwilling to screw up the beauty of the moment with my words, awe flooded my soul. No more pain. No more bruising. No more edema. No more doctor appointments. No more suffering. As I zipped the body bag closed…I knew it was all over. And I knew it was just beginning. Face to face with Jesus. Joining the choirs of angels. A new, perfect body. Forever praising the Lord. Beautiful.
But she went home that night with his Bible. She laid on her side of the bed knowing that the other side will forever be empty. She knows the Lord gives and takes away. But how do you muster up whatever it takes to bless His holy name? Sixty-one years isn’t long enough. Selfish, maybe, but honest. Because she knows God can handle her honest, deep, wrenching pain.
Grief hurts. It’s supposed to…because it means you’re feeling something. It is right to mourn. It is right to feel sadness. And it’s okay to cry…as long as you wipe your eyes with a tissue in order to see. The sacred is all around us, wooing us to something bigger than ourselves. See it. Name it. Claim it.