by Ken Rolheiser
Blessed are they who mourn

I recently suffered the loss of a sister-in-law. I remember thinking at the time, “She is too young and beautiful to die.” But in heaven we will all be young and beautiful.

I must confess I have not suffered the ultimate loss, such as a spouse or even a child, but I have lost parents and siblings. I am not an expert on loss, but I have grown through many experiences of parting.

In a seminar on “Healing Strategies After A Loss” Dr. Bill Webster shared a few basic principles of coping. Yes, there are stages people normally go through, but every one is different in their grieving.

“We see the world as we are”, Webster said, “not as it is.” The world changes for those in grief. Khalil Gibran said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”

“Loss changes your world forever,” Webster said. He used the metaphor of what happens to white paint if you add just a few drops of black. “We don’t like grey,” he said, “but everything is affected.”

We can’t get over grief, Webster said, but we can go through it. In his loss of a spouse he went through an uncharacteristic denial where he just did not accept her death initially. Time heals, and finding a purpose again in your life helps.

Relive memories, he suggests. You cannot forget them. At first it is the memories of death, but in time the darkness is lightened by the good memories of earlier years.

Reorganize! You don’t recover from grief, you reorganize your life. You can still have a meaningful life. When does grief end? When you can think of the person without pain – “I am so glad I knew her, or him.”

I like to think of it as rebooting a computer every morning. Sometimes the daily routine we follow will let us know that we can function again and start anew.

Being a Christian makes the journey of grief easier. Yes, I said easier. We go through these experiences of loss and we fall back on Jesus. Jesus said, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). We can mourn our present condition and our sinful nature, but we shall be comforted by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

The beatitudes are the answer to all the concerns we may have. Jesus gave us the beatitudes so that we can be cheerful. Who wouldn’t be cheerful if they received comfort, satisfaction, God’s mercy, the earth, and the promise of seeing God?

The Resurrection of Jesus changed our mourning forever! The disciples ran to the tomb to see for themselves. God wants us to find laughter again after loss. God wants us to shake off sorrow, to lift our hearts and our feet, to dance once again.

This will not happen immediately, but as Father Wendelin Rolheiser said at my sister-in-law’s funeral, God does not have a bad day! If we stay close to God, we will have the joy of God Days. And the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit can lead us in new life.

The words of Taylor Swift’s "I Wish You Would" come to mind:
I wish you would come back,

And I wish you knew that I'll never forget you as long as I live.
And I wish you were right here, right now, it's all good.
I wish you would

And with God’s help it can be all good again.

(586 words)