To live is to lose. This year, one of my dearest friends, something I’ve loved in a caring way for over forty years, died of cancer. I was stunned at the diagnosis and still struggle to imagine a world without my friend my blond, California friend Wendy. We boomers are discovering mortality, but so is everyone else. I have lived with the threat of death in family and my closest friend is living with cancer.
Grief is an inevitable season of life. We grieve what we love and those whom we love. Grief and gratitude go together, for our grief is grounded in the reality that your life matters to me, that you have brought joy to me, that I can’t imagine life without you.
Yet, all of us grieve – whether the loss of a loved one, a relational break up, the loss of a job, the aging process, or changes in our environment. When we grieve, we share in what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel called the “divine pathos,” God’s own suffering in the world. But, we also grieve with hope, trusting that God is moving in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones. That our grief will lift, and we will be able love more deeply and care more fully.
God is with me in my grief.
I embrace my sorrow, because God is my companion.
I am grateful for those whom I’ve loved.
I place my loved ones in God’s everlasting care.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, healing companion, retreat leader and lecturer, and author of nineteen books, including Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living; God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus; and Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry. He has taught at Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is currently theologian in residence at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He can be reached for lectures, retreats, and seminars at email@example.com