Just a few minutes before the first service last Sunday, I received a text to tell me that my favourite Aunt and my late mother’s only sibling, had died. It tends to throw you a little getting news like that at that sort of time. I mentioned that it had happened at both services as I imagined that since I was to take her funeral service, that it would be in this week. However, due to family overseas having to make arrangements in their work, etc, before they can get here, it’ll now be next Friday. That means that I will be having a small amount of bereavement leave later next week which will explain my not being at work.It’s an interesting thing having to deal with two close family events such as deaths within a three-month period. Grief has a funny way of nipping at your heels when you least expect it, causing discomfort and upset in almost a rhythmical kind of way. It happens at the time of the loved-ones death, then about three weeks later it hits again, then another three weeks and so on, hopefully lessening the negative impact as time goes by.
It’s also interesting for those of us in pastoral ministry because we are often found beside people we either know or don’t know as they go through times of grief and loss. In those cases, depending on whether you knew the person or not, it can be a fine line between subjectivity and your own troubled emotions whilst at the same time, having the necessary objectivity needed to be able to help and be of use.
Yet, on the other side of the fence, things are very different. For although objectivity is still needed, especially if you’re the one in the family who has to take the funeral and you want to do the best you can for them, you still have all your own memories and grieving to do as well. It’s a bit of a challenge and I do not believe that there is any easy way through.
The saving grace is of course the fact that through it all God walks beside you. It is in those deepest and darkest places that the Light of the Lord shines brightest. Sounds like a cliché, but actually and experientially, it is the truth.
So we move forward through our challenges, all the while, seeking God’s face and presence with us. He is faithful and true and will never let us down, even while going through difficult times. It may still not be easy, but it is made all that more able to be endured with God by your side.