The Book of Grief


The casket was just two pews in front of us. It held the sweet and generous wife of a good friend of ours who had battled cancer to the very end. Our grief-stricken friend sat between his two grief-stricken sons at the pew to our right. The large media screens that flanked either side of the sanctuary filled themselves with the photographs that held her life’s story.  Our pastor stood in the middle of it all, just above the casket, and shared his heart on the matter, consoled those who were hurting, reminded those who were forgetting, and read and prayed for hope and peace in the midst of such profound sorrow at the loss of such profound goodness.

My sweet and generous wife sat just to my left and I grasped her hand a bit tighter as I thought about what I was seeing on this day.  There is just no other way to put it – look around and take it in.  Soak up these days together that we have been given, that we have left, and relish the time…for it does not linger.  Things end and time moves on and we have no time to take back the time.

Life is fleeting and beautiful, harsh and wondrous.  This means just one thing to me on this day…now is the time to think about not what we have, but who we have, while we are still alive at a funeral.

P.S.  If you are a parent or grandparent or teacher of young children who might be experiencing loss and grief, there are some really wonderful books out there to help them through the process.  They include Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Clifton, Jim’s Dog Muffins by Miriam Cohen, Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola,The Saddest Time by Norma Simon, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst, When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown, My Father’s Arms Are A Boat by Stein Erik Lunde, and Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen.