Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Loss of a Loved One

In his ADW blog posting, "Good Grief," Msgr. Charles Pope writes about the feelings of grief associated with the death of someone we love. He writes:

Grief is one of the most painful and terrible emotions we can experience. It can crush us like a ton of bricks or loom over us like a dark cloud. Sometimes in sudden loss we just go numb only to discover that numbness is not a lack of feeling at all.

What Msgr. Pope describes is worse, far worse, than merely feeling bad. Make no mistake, the closest thing that there is to Hell on earth is the sudden loss of a loved one. To have someone near and dear to you suddenly ripped away from you, leaving nothing but a gaping wound and the emptiness of being all alone.

Of course, the fortunate person is the one who has faith and, consequently has hope, the confident assurance that the deceased loved one is not forever lost, but by the grace of Christ, lives in Him still. By the power of transcendent love, communion with such person is still possible even after "death." That understanding does provide some measure of comfort, even though on a more emotional level there is sadness from the person being sorely missed.

On the other hand, there are those who do not have such faith and, consequently, have no hope. For them, the deceased is gone, totally and forever. For them, all that is left is the abyss. And then there are those whose loved ones did not die, but merely rejected and abandoned them. While one is happy they are not dead, the loss of that love from a break-up is just as real; they may not be physically dead, but they are dead to the heart. In both of these cases, what we see is a glimpse of Hell.

The permanent loss of love, eternal abandonment, the resulting feeling of emptiness. All of these have the potential to lead to excruciating mental and emotional pain and angst, as well as spritual suffering. If we feel all of these things from the loss of a loved human person, imagine how much worse it would be if it were the heart-wrenching loss of love that results from separation from God? If you think that the anxiety you feel from the loss of a human loved one is unbearable, and you feel that your insides are all twisted up and feel like they are turning inside out, and you feel nothing but utter despair of the pain ever going away, all that is just a taste of what Hell is like, where we are eternally separated from He who is Love itself.

Whatever you do, don't let that happen. Grab onto God as if your life depended on it. Because it does.

Now, grabbing onto Him might necessarily mean clinging to Him while on the Cross, it might mean having to endure the Passion with Him, but it is by the Passion that suffering is destroyed. It is through the Cross that we reach the Resurrection.

Pain and suffering and hardship in this world cannot be avoided. You cannot run away from them. They will eventually catch up to you. Eventually they will ambush you. The only way you can overcome the ambush is by charging through it with Christ. The only way that pain and suffering and hardship are defeated are by embracing them with Christ, grabbing ahold of them and having them transformed by the power of the Cross. Only by grabbing them and transforming them are they defeated. Only by the transformative power of love on the Cross do they lose their sting and power to hurt.

So, grab onto the Lord as if your life and happiness and well-being depended on it. Because they do.



Jan said...

An accidental 'click' and now I wonder. Is anticipatory anguish worse than dealing with sudden death? And, you know dear friend, this isn't an academic exercise for me.

You are right - all we can do is hang on.

Flexo said...

Is anticipatory anguish worse than dealing with sudden death?

It is, in many ways, worse. When one anticipates anguish, the anguish is already effectively there and will not go away because it also has not yet arrived. When one anticipates loss, it is as if they are gone already, even though they might be right next to you.

The anticipation and witnessing of suffering by Mary at the foot of the Cross was indeed a sword piercing her heart. The death of her Son and lowering from the Cross were no doubt heartbreaking, but it would not be surprising if she experienced a measure of catharsis in cradling Him in her arms.