The End of the Story

Death is not the end of the story!
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. After writing it for 10 years I always have trouble coming up with new things to say about holidays, and Good Friday and Easter are no exception. And I really liked my 2006 column better than this year’s, so I think I’m going to post that instead!

As parents, we try to impress on our children important lessons about life. If you’re nice, people will tend to be nice to you. Eat well and you’ll be healthy. Listen to your teacher and you’ll learn. But there’s one lesson we learn all by ourselves.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

I was reminded of this anew last week by a long-dreaded email. It was the invitation to a funeral for a woman I had known years ago. We were never close, though I do know her family. But her story makes me cry nonetheless. When a 31-year-old woman dies, leaving a husband and two children who are too young to even remember her, what is there to do but cry?

I know what it is to bury someone you love. I am still haunted by the memory of my husband picking up my son’s tiny casket, and carrying it to his grave. Such things are the very blackest parts of life.

When we are in mourning like this we face a crossroads. The most inviting route is often the grimmest, for in our darkness, despair is almost welcome. I believe, though, that there is another choice. As difficult as it is, we must not let death steal our life.

I will never be the same since my son died. I only had him for 29 days, but they were the most precious of my life, and I will cherish them forever. My friend Kerry only had two years to smile upon her children, but her mark is still there, for it is the mark of an undying love. And that’s what love is—undying.

Death does not end a relationship. It only changes it.

My grandfather was married three times to three wonderful women. He had each wife for almost the same number of years before cancer stole all of them, until, at the age of 88, he decided maybe it was time to remain single until he was called home. In these later years his house was adorned by pictures of all the women he had loved—the grandmother I never knew, the one I had called “Nana”, and the one who had stood so proudly at my wedding. He had such sorrow in his life, but his life was also bigger for allowing room both for love and for grief. We cannot, and should not, block out our tears. They are just as much a part of love as the hugs and kisses were. But let us not shut out the smiles, too. Smiles and tears can coexist. And that is the challenge that, I think, faces all of us at that bleak crossroads.

Perhaps it is appropriate to be thinking such thoughts as Easter is upon us. After all, on Good Friday life seemed extremely unfair. The Teacher was dead. And yet, the story did not end on Good Friday. For Sunday was just around the corner, and on that day we were shown, once and for all, that the bad is not the end of the story.

Easter Tomb--The End of the Story
I do not know if you believe the Good Friday story; I do, and it’s one reason I can smile through the tears.

Yet all of us, at some point, will need to decide how to deal with the grave.

Dylan Thomas once wrote “Do not go gently into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light”. It’s poetic, it’s passionate, and I think it’s wrong. Death is not the dying of the light.

Changes come, even those that aren’t welcome. But with those changes often comes a greater ability to love and cherish both those we can hug, and those who are now beyond our reach. The bad is not the end of the story; the sorrow is not all that is being told. Life may not be fair, but it is still good, and there is so much more to be written. That’s a lesson no one can teach us. We must learn it ourselves as we stand at the crossroads, reject despair, and choose the road bathed in tears, but full of hope.

Comments

  1. …for the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross… Hebrews 12:2

    That’s a sobering thought.

    My heart goes out to those who have suffered loss in this life. God bless you my sister.

    Blessings,

    Janet

    http://www.janetpowers1.etsy.com
    Janet recently posted…New Designs for Today ~ Everything Beautiful Handmade Jewelry by JanetMy Profile

  2. beautiful column. my mom died nine and a half years ago.. i was just a senior in high school. and i became angry with God. it wasn’t until i really grew in my relationship with the Lord that i was able to understand His greater plan for my life, my mom’s life, my dad’s life, my sister’s life – He needed my mom more than we did. and for that, i’m at peace with it now.

    thanks for the words today!
    molly recently posted…The Stillman Wedding: The God’s KnotMy Profile

  3. Amen.

    Very inspiring and reflective thoughts for Good Friday, Sheila.
    Elspeth@breathinggrace recently posted…Musings, Links and ThinksMy Profile

  4. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief. Prov 14:13

    That’s how I felt when someone dear to me was dying of cancer. We laughed while we grieved. And we did grieve, but not as those without hope.

    Hallelujah for the cross! We have confidence that death is not final!

    Julie

  5. We attended a good friend’s funeral this week. It was a celebration of his life – 78 years of it – and it truly could be said of him “Well done, you good and faithful servant.” But that didn’t change the grief his wife felt, and will continue to feel. Fortunately his kids, and grand-kids carry his stories and experiences forward into their lives.

    And you’re so right – we do have hope! We’ll see each other again, and the separation is just temporary.
    Lori Ferguson recently posted…Clear CommunicationMy Profile

  6. I understand why you would think this is was a good article as I can’t think of one much better. It does seem death either draws us closer to God or makes us withdraw from him.

  7. I just found your blog this evening, and I LOVE it! I am loving reading through the 29 Days to Great Sex right now. I appreciate this most recent post of yours. It really hit a chord in my heart and helped me to remember that God loves me and wants me and my family to be happy, even though life is unfair at times! Grief is so hard to live through, even it is a trivial matter. I’ll remember to have hope though, hope that through Christ, everything will be made good again. I will continue to follow your posts! Great job!

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.

Leave a Comment

*

CommentLuv badge