Grief and learning

Grievers can’t hit the reset button.  We can’t redo the day, the moment, when the tragedy–the loss– occurred.  We wrestle with the what-ifs, the “why did this have to happen to – my son, my spouse, my family” thought patterns.  This is normal in the life cycle of grief.  We desire to close our eyes and reopen them to the time when our loved ones’ hearts were still beating, still alive before our eyes and living.

The truth: this is not how it works.  There is no reset button, no time machine allowing us to return there.

The truth: our loved ones we knew in the past, whether the knowing was as recent as last week or as distant as 30 years ago, can have a positive influence on our thought patterns.  In a joyful sort of way.  And in a way we need in order to keep going and remain as fully alive as possible to the lives God has given us.

The truth:  to practice this way of life is a choice.  We must be intentional or we will over-obsess with dreams for a reset button and/or stay in the darkness.  This way, choice, is to allow our deceased loved ones to give us gifts.  Now.  In the present moment.  If we allow it to happen, the lives and remembrance of our loved ones can equip us to be purposeful, wise, compassionate, wide-awake people.

Since Jude’s death, my wife and I make a choice—not every day—but we do choose to allow the experience of our loss to mold the way we see and relate with the world and others.  We fail miserably at this some days, some weeks. But we are in spiritual formation.  This loss has not just happened to us, but is happening through us.  Our hope, prayer, and choice is to believe Jude’s life, though shorter than we wanted, was and is a gift to the world.

His life taught and teaches us important lessons each and every day.  Because of our experience with him, the individual moments of life carry more meaning.  The Saturday morning breakfasts with the boys are deeply cherished.  I am more passionate about the work I do every day.  We are focused on not wasting time and being a discerning people, a people that does only what truly matters and what God has given us to do with our lives.

Because of Jude, and the gifts his legacy shares, this is how some of our sadness is being transformed into joy. We can’t go back in time, but we can go into today and tomorrow with our hearts and minds wide open to becoming ambassadors of mercy, peace, and truths.

The truths:  we can’t go back.  The ability to make choices is still available to us.  The legacy of our loved ones has much to teach us, if we choose to listen for it.

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