This Perspective Helps You Live

Stories of death have been haunting me lately, helping me view the world, better.

This week I read two posts about people I know who lost loved ones, not to the pandemic, but tragically nonetheless. One lost a young wife, and the other, a baby who was stillborn.

And while my eyes pored over the words filled with loss, there was a pressure on my chest, and a sorrow that filled me, the same feelings I felt when my father passed when I was a boy.

Death feels wrong. No matter how many times people say, “It’s a part of life,” death feels faulty, like looking through a distorted lens leaving everything misshaped. Some say it’s “natural,” but I think it’s the most unnatural thing there is in nature. It always leaves a void, a wound. It feels like a gaping hole in one’s heart. It’s an end that feels like it never ends and where new beginnings cease to be. Of course, that wound will heal, some, but it never fully mends. It will ache. It always will.

But just because death is wrong doesn’t mean that right things can’t result from it. For example, the pandemic is terrible, but it has brought out incredible courage and sacrifice from people, especially those on the frontlines. No one would say that the virus is good. But nonetheless, good can result from it. A gift can still be given even in the bleakest of times, from the worst of events.

For many of us, death also gives us something good. It’s perspective. It’s a mindset given to us, who are left behind, that will go before us for the rest of our lives. It reminds us that there is so much to lose, more than money, possessions, investments, homes. We lose connection, the very thing we all really want the most, the relationship with a wife that didn’t get as many days as she should have, or to hold the crying baby who shouldn’t have died before birth.

There’s a clarity in death that no other event we experience can provide. We see so clearly that life is fragile. We are fragile, mere mortals, who can return to dust again so easily. We can see the treasure we have in time. Yes, it’s finite—and there’s nothing like death to make us realize our finitude—but that fuels the urgency to live fully, making the best of the minutes, hours, days, we’ve been allotted. So we enjoy the present, basking in each moment. Through death, we see life more clearly.

Gratitude, eventually, somehow flows more naturally after a loved one dies. When death takes what feels like everything away from you, the people who remain seem all the more precious. Your life does, too. You see it as you ought—as a gift. Each day, each waking moment, each memory are all gifts to you, to me, to us.

For those who have been humbled, you will understand that you do not have as much control as you want. You are not on the throne. Knowing that, you are able to release that ultimate direction to another, freeing yourself from the burden of trying to reign a land that is beyond your power. For your crown is not big enough to rule life. And in that understanding, you find it strangely freeing.

If you have faith, you will remember that the Son of God wept over death and He Himself suffered a bloody end. He was torn from His earthly mother and Heavenly Father. He knows the powerful grip of Death and how its boney fingers take without care. And yet He rose from the grave, defeating Death by death. And because He knows its sting, He comforts us who suffer at its hand.

My hope is that, even in the heaviness of these words, you find comfort, that you can fly on it’s wings and feel the dawn breaking around you, presenting a fresh new day before your eyes. I also hope that you see the glory of life and that there is much to be grateful for at this moment. And even if you feel an ache right now, I hope you can, even if it’s just for a mere moment, know the goodness of today.

Death does haunt the living, but it can never hold down Life.


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Her naked voice will make you feel

She opened her mouth and sang,
her naked voice pure and
beautiful made the air
ache.

It was a Kurdish song with
Kurdish words that I didn’t
understand but I could feel its
meaning, echoing, as it resonated
through my body and pierced my
soul.

It was haunting—

hauntingly beautiful.

It wasn’t a scream; it wasn’t a
yell. It was pain intertwined
with hope like the morning mist
fragile, yet floating, everywhere
then disappears in the first
morning light.

Mysterious yet meaningful, moving
you in ways you never knew you
could, within you a chorus of emotions
dancing to the tune of life and death.

Lost.

Lost in the moment, searching for truth,

yearning for hope.

Sonorous reverberations lingered
longingly as I listened, mesmerized,
lost in the melody, as I found my soul
hovering, absorbed in each note, in each
word.

You who know pain can understand how
the air can ache

bringing you to tears,
shaking your heart,
tearing down the world
you love

but you stand

Defiant.

Resolute.

Yet, as you breathe,

you ache.


This was inspired by Emel Mathlouthi and her performance.

The truth you need to know about your pain

Pain. It marks and makes us.

The death of a loved one, the breaking of love, the broken promises, the promising future never realized, the realization that your body won’t stop aching…causes us great grief; but they often act as the compass of life, directing us to our true north.

Who would we be without it? We are marked, like babes at birth.

We yearn for it to disappear, though. How could we not? It’s pain. If we could rid ourselves of it, we would in a moment, a breath. Instead, we lie awake, swallowed in darkness—pining—dreaming of healing, sustained relief, a whole wholeness, love.

It’s there. We can feel it, sensing that relief is near, and sometimes we find it. But some pains are beyond the healing found in this world, now. That adds to our suffering; it’s the pain of pain.

But it’s that ache that grows us, molds us, deepens us, enrich us. It’s our seasoning. By it, our life’s song is more sonorous—richer. It lets us resonate and connect with others, so we can weep when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice. Our pain unites us.

Nevertheless, I believe there is a place where whole wholeness comes, washing over us like the inevitable tide washes the shore. And we will bathe in it like a hot bath in winter, relief, but not temporary—eternal.

For now, we must move forward through the pain, forsaking bitterness, jealousy, hopelessness. Forsake them. Choose to grow. Ask for help. Pray. Seek, and you shall find. And, in the process, you will be surprised.

Our pain is like the pangs of childbirth, throbbing, ornery, agonizing. But it births something, no, someone amazing.

You.


Book Recommendations:
Here are some books that I found very helpful in dealing with and thinking about pain. Now, to be upfront, these are coming from a Christian framework. Nonetheless, they are immensely beneficial.


1) Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis (affiliate): This is a philosophical look into the subject and answers the big questions about pain that we all have.
2) A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis (affiliate): After Lewis’s wife died, he wrote this book. It’s raw and beautiful.


This post is dedicated to Michelle and Matt, college friends who just lost their 19 year old son. My heart breaks.