Sunday, February 25, 2007

On grief

Spoiler Warning - I'm going to talk a little about Bridge to Terabithia so
if you don't know this story and don't want the movie spoiled, I give you fair
warning. You can always come back and read this later:-)

I had a conversation with my seven year old daughter about death yesterday. She really wants to go see Bridge to Terabithia because the trailers are great, and good marketing works. It's a Disney movie and so they've been promoting it between episodes of her favorite show - Hannah Montana.

I read Katherine Paterson's book back when I was a kid. And while I read hundreds of books, this one stuck with me simply because of what happens in this story. Even now I remember feeling incredibly sad when (Warning!! Spoiler ahead! Stop reading if you don't want to know!!!) Leslie dies. It's a great book, but very sad and very realistic. The book was written after the author's own son lost his best friend when he was a kid.

I decided that little piece of information was important for my daughter to know. I didn't want to shock her with that. Not at her age. She's experienced two deaths. One was a little puppy we had bought just a month earlier. The death was unexpected and difficult for us all. It prompted a lot of questions about death and we talked candidly with them. We buried the dog in the backyard to help them with the finality of it. Just a few months later, her grandfather (my dad) died rather suddenly from advanced cancer. She wasn't particularly close with this grandfather, but it was still hard for a little while. Especially when we took our kids up to say their good-byes.

But in movies, especially kid's movies, happy endings tend to prevail. And that's not always how life works. Now, she's thinking about whether she even wants to go see the movie now.

When I was nineteen, a close friend of mine was killed in a car accident. Her name was Lara. Even now, fifteen years later, I think of her often. I still send her parents a Christmas card each Christmas to let them know I haven't forgotten her. Lara was a Christian. She was actually pretty influential to my own salvation and thankfully I was able to share the joy of that before she died. I know she's in heaven with Jesus. But I still miss her.

While I think dealing with grief as Christians is different, it is still grief. It still hurts. And we need to talk to each other. Whether it is grief from a death or something else, the healthiest thing we can do is find someone we can just talk to. Share with. I find that one of the ways I deal with the loss of my father is just to talk about it sometimes. In a blog, or with my husband as I point out something my dad would have liked. With Lara, I write to her parents, or share her story with others. Keeping things inside isn't ever good for us. Telling God of our hurts and our sorrows is just as important. He grieves along with us. As a parent, when my kids hurt - I hurt. And I can only imagine how much more God's perfect love aches for us when we carry sorrows.

I don't really mean to make this a downer post. But just as I know there are many who are enjoying this beautiful day, there are others who are sad and hurting. Talk to God. Talk to a friend. Share what is inside.

Lord, please bring comfort to those who are sad today. Help them to know you are near and that you grieve alongside them. Amen

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