As soon as Christmas was over, the shops were stocked with cards and gifts for Valentines Day, and Easter eggs! We move from one event/celebration to the next with such ease – or so it appears in retail. But in life it isn’t quite so easy! We need time to reflect and work through some of the events in our lives, and when we don’t and jump straight into the next thing we can be storing up trouble for ourselves in terms of our emotional and mental health.
My eldest son, Chris came home from Malawi on a flying visit (actually on the weekend of my birthday) as he was on his way up to Glasgow for work. What a joy to have him with us and go out for a meal as a family – I can’t really remember when we last did that, just the four of us. But with the joy of his arrival came the sadness of the goodbye on the Monday morning, not knowing when we would next see him to give him a hug. I’m just grateful for WhatsApp and the communication possible through that media.
Less than a week later Tim and I said “goodbye” to Tracey who had lived with us for nearly 15 years, becoming part of our family; sharing the good times and the bad with her. As I have written elsewhere, she has gone back to Portsmouth, to be with her family and serve God there.
In both of these situations, I can still pick up my phone and get in contact with a loved one. When we lose someone close to us through death, that’s another matter. It is much harder, because we can’t get in contact with them; we can’t share what we are doing in the same way. When taking funerals, I sometimes use a poem that comes from a sermon delivered in 1910 by Henry Scott Holland at St Paul’s Cathedral whilst the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster. It actually contains some good advice, in how to travel through grief.
Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well.
The support of people around us, helps us to come to terms with the challenges of life in difficult circumstances, if we let them, but sometimes we have to spend time with ourselves, acknowledging how we feel. That is loving ourselves, and so important. For me, it also includes talking with God, telling Him how I feel and letting him restore me. He will do it for you, too, if you ask Him.