My best friend died one month ago.
To say that the loss of someone to whom one is close is “difficult” only scratches the surface, especially when that person is only 41 years old, and we, the residual, are not far behind in age.
But with sadness comes joy, with sorrow comes blessing, and with anxiety comes peace.
I’ve heard over the years about the “five stages of grief” and, although they make sense, are not something to which a Catholic Christian is subjected.
I never denied my friend was dead. I found him in his bed after texting him two days prior, then arriving back in town and having a gut feeling that something wasn’t right (since he didn’t answer when I invited him over for beer and pizza). It was apparent when I entered the apartment that he had departed early that morning, in his sleep.
I have never been angry at God, nor anyone else for Brian’s passing. I understand that this is the way of things; we have a certain time on this earth, and that time is given to us to do with what we will. If we choose to spend it on video games and drinking beer, so be it. If we choose to spend it enhancing others’ lives (no matter the method, even playing video games and drinking beer), so be it. The important thing is that we are not an impedance nor detriment to someone else’s salvation. Rather, we as Christians are called to bring them to salvation.
It’s pointless to bargain with God, the same as it is pointless to bargain with nature. With quantum physics. I often hear the accusation that if God were a loving God, he wouldn’t subject humanity to suffering. I maintain that it isn’t God who subjects us to suffering, it is us. Just look at the decisions people make that they think will make them happy and, in turn, make them miserable. Sad sacks. Do we really have any doubt that the human condition has not changed from the inception of humanity? Other than technological advances, I have no doubt it has not. We may as well bargain with gravitons and ask them to stop, er, “gravitatin’”.
Depression. This is a tough one. Is being sad the same as being depressed? I would say that depression goes deeper and affects one’s life adversely for an extended period of time. I still tear up at random times (hint: writing a blog post or asking my son if he has spoken with my wife about it), but that doesn’t mean I can no longer function. Instead, I have used this as an opportunity to examine just what exactly sadness and depression are. It turns out that I and my family (my entire family) are extremely blessed, happy individuals. There’s no place for sadness nor depression in our lives. Of course sadness comes ’round every now and again – that’s part of life. It’s when we dwell upon events to the detriment of our relationships with those around us that depression takes hold. In the love and embrace of our Christian community, however, that transition is more difficult.
Lastly, there is acceptance. My relationship with Jesus Christ led me to this one immediately upon finding Brian. Death is what it is, and we all must pass through the veil. The only questions that remain are how one is remembered, and where one will end up. Even a devout atheist can identify with the former, as one’s legacy was of paramount importance to Pagans. The question for Christians is the latter: did one live a life of virtue, of attention to the least of our brethren, of service, of love, of peace?
It’s much easier to accept the passing of a loved one when the answer is “yes”.
Why have I entitled this post “paradigm shifts”?
Sometimes it takes an extreme event to wake one up. Sometimes it’s a loud noise, sometimes it’s a child crawling into bed, sometimes it’s nature calling.
For me, it was nature calling, but not in the way we typically think. Rather, it’s the constant drone of my death sentence. Do I wish to be remembered in a bad way, or a good way? Do I wish to end up in heaven, or in hell? Above all, do I wish to cherish each and every passing moment I have with my wife, my children, my friends?
Old folks always say to “enjoy the moments, because they pass quickly”.