Dec 05

Loss is Tragic

Yesterday afternoon I attended the funeral for a friend’s mom who had passed away before Thanksgiving.  I had never met my friend’s mom, but I attended the service in order to support my friend.  As I sat in the church sanctuary before the service, I realized that not only did I not know my friend’s mom but I also did not even know her name.

As the service progressed, I learned a lot about my friend’s mom.  I learned her name.  I learned that she was in her seventies.  She had defeated cancer earlier in her life.  I learned that all of her children adored her even though they did not always agree with her.  She had a lasting impact on just about anyone she met.  Her heart was big; she believe in second chances.  And she will be missed.

This blog post has been swirling around in my head for weeks as I have written other blog posts about loss and as I have spoken or read about others losing parents.  My original blog post thought had to do with the fact that dying young seems tragic.  Being in your seventies seems young to die these days.  This woman’s death seems tragic because of that.  My mom was 53; that seems young, and that seems tragic.  The more I thought about this today, though, the more I realized that age has nothing to do with how tragic death is.  Teens dying on the road is tragic, but it is not their ages that makes it so.   The death of children and babies is tragic, but it is not their ages that makes it so.

Age has nothing to do with tragedy of death because death itself is the tragedy.  But it happens. Every second of every day it happens. Tragedy after tragedy after tragedy after tragedy.  Death after death after death after death.  It happens so often that it does not interrupt our days with breaking news stories unless we know the person.   It also does not matter how it happens.  Even though some causes of death are more surprising than others or more drawn out than others, death itself is tragic.  I would assert that tragedy does not have a level – we cannot say that one day is more or less tragic than another.  Death is tragic.

Or is it the aftermath – the impact to our lives – of death that makes it tragic?  I think that may be it.  We all know that death will happen to us and everyone else at some point in our lives.  When I die, I will not feel the tragedy of the death.  I would guess, though, from personal experience that others around me will feel the tragedy.  I find my mom’s death tragic because in the aftermath of her death, I feel loss, I feel pain, and I want it to be different.  I want the story to end differently, and her age – though young – and cause of death – though unfortunate – do not change the impact that her death in a different way or at a different age might have had on me. I would have felt those same emotions if we would have had another twenty or thirty years with her. There would have always been another event that I would have wanted her to attend or another conversation that I would have wanted to have.

William Shakespeare wrote plays during the Renaissance era which can be divided into three categories.  One category is sort of meaningless in this blog post: histories.  The other two, though, are quite meaningful:  comedies which have happy endings and tragedies which do not.  The comedies are fun, and we get our modern sit-coms from this genre.  Problems are solved in these plays within two hours; our sit-coms make even better time with under 30 minutes for resolution.  Tragedies, however, are guaranteed to make the audience depressed.  There are no happy endings in Macbeth, Othello, or Romeo and Juliet.  They are sad from beginning to end, and most of the time one or more main characters end up dead before the play ends.

The interesting thing about death for those who believe in Christ is that the grief that we feel here on earth resembles the Shakespearean tragedies.  We feel pain, sorrow, and loss.  We become angry and sad while we work through the fact that our loved one is no longer with us.  We struggle to get out of bed some mornings because life without them hurts so much.  But this is not the whole story.

Unlike Shakespeare’s tragedies that end that with no hope, our grief has a happy ending because of the cross of Christ.  Christmas is all about the coming of the Christ child, born of a virgin and perfectly God while completely man.  He grew into a man who ministered to others, who died a tragic death in punishment for crimes he did not commit, who spent time in Hell paying for the sin of humanity, and who rose from the dead triumphantly then returning to Heaven where he prepares a place for all who believe.  This is the GOOD NEWS at the end of a tragedy!

Although grief is natural and pain endures for years after the loss of a loved one, hope is here.  Hope is near.  And as we enter the Christmas season, a time for many that is difficult because of loved ones no longer with them, we need to remember that the message of the manger is the hope for our tragedies to end well.  Our pain is redeemed.

May our sorrows decrease as we remember the promise of Christmas.

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.



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