I can still visualize my dear husband getting the phone call that made him sit up straight, lock his joints, and well up tears in his eyes. He hung up the phone, sat silently, then looked over at me and just quietly whispered that his little brother was no longer with us.
It was a motorcycle accident. It wasn’t his fault. I’d just talked to him. How did this happen? WHY did this happen?
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a loss like that; you may have experienced loss deeper and harder than that. It’s a punch to the gut any time it happens, but especially when it’s out-of-the-blue and to someone so young.
Unfortunately, when you’re the graphic designer of the family (as I am), you might get tasked with creating the memorial slideshow and programs and other elements that are needed to help make a celebration of life as beautiful as it should be, and that can be painful and full of tears (as it was). On the flip side, working so closely with grief gave me a lot of time to think and reflect and learn and reminisce, and I honestly wouldn’t trade that time for anything.
Whatever your experience with grief may be, I am thankful that the Lord gives us opportunity to learn something in the “house of mourning.” In light of what our family has been going through over the past few weeks, I decided to share a few things that have been on my heart. I hope the lessons I’ve learned will be an encouragement and help to you when the time comes for you to enter into that sorrowful place.
1. Life is fragile.
This is something that you can understand in your head but is difficult to really grasp until it’s staring you in the face; when life’s been snatched—unexpectedly or not—from someone you dearly love.
Cross anyone on the street and ask them if they expect to die today. Chances are, they’ll look at you funny and say, “Nope!”
But for nearly 150,000 people in our world, today actually is the day they’ll breathe their last breath, whether they see it coming or not.
Life is fragile.
Loss can happen anytime, anyplace, to anyone. It’s one of those things that we read about and are sad for others, but never anticipate colliding with head-on in our own lives… at least, not now. Loss almost seems “mystical” and “strange” until all of a sudden—it’s real. And it hurts.
Life is fragile… so be thankful for each and every day you wake up and for every moment that passes. We never really know when it will be our last.
2. You’re gonna go somewhere when you die.
Do you know where you’re going to spend eternity?
That probably isn’t a question you expected to read on a graphic design blog, but it’s more important than any design question you may have.
The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We’re all sinners, and according to Romans 6:23, “…the wages of sin is death…” or separation from God in a place called Hell.
Thankfully, that verse doesn’t end with death! It continues, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The payment we deserve for our sin is death and separation, but God offers us the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even in our sinful state, God sent His Son to die on the cross and take our place so that we don’t have to be separated from God. His death was accepted by God as a payment for our sins.
Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” We tend to overcomplicate the beauty and simplicity of salvation. Confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart. That’s how you’re saved.
Romans 10:13 reiterates, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Call upon the name of the Lord and your relationship with Christ begins and Heaven will be your new eternal home.
Jesus died for every man, woman, boy, and girl. God’s forgiveness through His Son is available to anyone who is willing to call upon Him for salvation.
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” and Romans 8:38–39 say, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Once you’re saved, you’ll have peace with God, you are no longer condemned by your sin, and nothing (literally nothing—EVER) can separate you from the love of God.
If you don’t know where you’re gonna go when you die (cause you’re gonna go somewhere), please take some time to consider this gift that Christ offers to you!
If you do know that you’re on your way to Heaven, remember point number one—life is fragile. Are you sharing this Good News with others so they’ll be ready when the time for their last breath arrives?
3. Love people.
Death has a keen way of bringing both the positives and the negatives of your interactions with people to a front. Reminiscing over fond memories will bring smiles and laughter, while considering things you should or could have done differently may bring guilt or tough questions.
Since the past is the past, all we can do now is learn from it and love people better in the future.
Take some time—today—to show someone you love them.
Shoot a text with a silly meme to your best friend. Give your grandmother a call and tell her you love her. FaceTime your parents and let them talk to their grandbabies.
Spend some extra time reading and snuggling with your little ones. Hug your spouse a little tighter and a little longer. Take a walk as a family, hand in hand.
Pay for the frazzled young mom’s pile of groceries. Hold the door for the elderly gentleman walking into the post office. Drop off a tasty treat for your neighbor to enjoy.
Everybody needs love. Tell them and show them.
Loss is always difficult and always painful. But if we’re wise in the “house of mourning,” we can turn loss into gain. Don’t waste the time you’re given in the place of sorrow, even if it feels like it will never end.
Take advantage of the lessons God wants to teach and watch yourself and others come out stronger on the other side.