An Irreplaceable Life
It was almost two years ago that we lost my wife’s grandmother. A remarkably sweet woman that lived out the role of grandmother in every classic way from baking and singing to listening and laughing, almost as if she had been waiting her whole life to fulfill the dream of loving a big family. She did it so well, and because of that, her loss left a void in the lives of her children and grandchildren that echoes in every cheesecake we taste, every little rabbit we see, and every campfire story with the family.
Nicolas Wlterstorff says in Lament for a Son, “There is a hole in the world now, in the place where he used to be there is nothing, a center like no other of memory and hope and knowledge and affection which once inhabited this earth is gone…There is nobody now who saw just what he saw, knows what he knew, remembers what he remembered, loves what he loved, a person, an irreplaceable person is gone. The world is emptier.”
We give our best attempts to soothe the soul in the absence of a loved one. “They are in a better place.” “They would have wanted us to move on.” “They lived a good life.” And yet, no matter what words we give to their life, we still miss them, they still aren’t there where they used to be, and we wish we could have them back. Why? Why is grief so confusing, why does it throw us through such a gauntlet of unending emotions? It’s exhausting, we go from thinking we will be okay to asking how all of this could happen.
Loss is a violent assault against the soul, and no matter how hard we try, it never becomes normal. Deeply engrained in all of us is the desire for death to die, for pain to disappear, to go to a place where we don’t “have to” anymore. This longing comes from a place that is God given, a center of memory that lives on through how we are made, remembering what we were made for.
The Garden of Eden is the origin of our story, and the New Heaven and Earth is our destination, both places where death and loss wasn’t and isn’t a part of the equation. We long to go home where the pain falls away and we get to be with our loved ones. We were not made for this, our souls were not made to have people ripped from their hands, yet, the payment the world owes until the day Christ returns is that of death. Until then, we need a redeemer for right now, one that can bring comfort in the loss and one that can bring hope in the pain.
Jesus Christ, our Savior, came that death would die, that disease would be crushed, and the pain of evil would cease. So today, as we live in the in-between of what our souls remember of a life we never had (In Eden, Genesis 1-2) and a life we long to live (Restoration of all things, Revelation 21) and we cling to Christ our Savior and hope who redeems us so that we may live. So that when the end comes it is merely the beginning. So that instead of death we find life, because of Christ who bore our sins in His body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24) As we wait, look to Christ, your comforter, embrace your sadness and bring it to the mercy seat, where Christ who is acquainted with your grief and despair, sits ready to receive you. There is no need to try and make sense of it all because we live in a time that has no sense, no compass, apart from Christ and His Spirit. Bring your loss to Him, and let His Word wash over you as a healing balm and the embracing arms of grace.