“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I shared this post on Facebook a year ago and it came up again today in the “On This Day” memories. It was timely to read again today. I’ve been thinking about my parents quite a bit lately. The loss of my dad five months ago agitated the grief scar of losing my mom. It rubbed at that ever present wound and a tender area was exposed again. It’s weird to be simultaneously grieving a loss from 25 years ago and one still so fresh. The grief journey has been different this time around. And yet, I’m beginning to see that there’s no way for me to really separate the two griefs. They’re both in the no longer here category.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve learned a valuable lesson from loss. It took years and years to learn this lesson too. Time by no means heals all wounds. You never “get over it.” And then, you actually reach a point along the journey when you would never want to completely get over it…if getting over it meant forgetting the beauty too. Because, here’s the kicker, it’s those glimpses of beauty that seem to fill a grieving heart with joy. The “joy does come in the morning” over and over and over again.
The loss of a loved one shapes us, teaches us, grows us and reminds us of what beauty truly is. And like Bonhoeffer says, “a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”
My #OneWord this year is treasure. Today, look for the treasure tucked away in the pain. The One who holds the map is faithful and will lead you to it…over and over and over again.