Grief is a funny thing. I’m currently approaching the 4-year anniversary of a family member’s death at the end of this month. It doesn’t hurt and isn’t raw like it once was, but sometimes the hole left just feels that little bit bigger.
Although we had known that they weren’t well they ultimately deteriorated quite quickly. It took me weeks to be able to acknowledge that they had been in the coffin that we buried in the ground. It didn’t seem possible that they were truly gone, they hadn’t ‘finished’ living yet, it seemed way too soon for them to be gone.
At the moment the hole is feeling that little bit bigger than normal. It hurts to think about what they are missing out on now, I think there’s even a bit of guilt there that I’m getting to grow and do the things and have the opportunities that I am when they can’t.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the disciples after Jesus was crucified. They had witnessed him on the cross so there could have been no doubt in their minds that he was dead, no opportunity for them to live in denial of that.
I’m not sure that I can blame Thomas’ reaction to the other disciples telling him they had seen Jesus. Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25) He struggled to accept Jesus’ resurrection just like I struggled to accept my family member’s presence in a coffin. Because, grief is a funny thing.
Thomas later gets his opportunity to see the nail marks and put his hand in Jesus’ side, to which Jesus responds, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) I don’t think there is anything wrong with doubting for a while, and letting yourself grieve, but it’s not a healthy place to stay indefinitely. I know that my family member’s body is in that coffin, but I also believe that their spirit isn’t. Although I haven’t seen it I believe that they will have eternal life with God.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
I still miss them, I’m not sure that will ever not be the case, but I find relief in this belief. Like Thomas, in my grief I doubted at first. But I believe in God’s promises of love and hope for those who believe in him.