A Grief Beyond Words

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. In this darkness, Lord be there!
(Psalm 130:1-2)

I have no fear of death or its images, of wakes and funerals and scenes of violence and mayhem. At least this is what I tell myself. If anything, I have gone through a phrase of inordinate fascination with death, looking into the face of it in an attempt to unlock its unfathomable mystery.

Except when the death involves a child and then I am overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and anguish. And anger. Old wounds I have struggled to heal from are reopened and I find myself flailing helplessly against a tide of sorrow.

A young boy was killed the week just past, and seeing his father trying to find words to express his family’s inexpressible grief broke my heart. He did a much better job than I could ever have done. When I was in his unenviable position years ago, I was struck dumb. It was my wife who stood up and spoke for us.

Looking at his stricken face during the last rites for the boy, I of course saw myself. The messages he wanted to impart were the very same ones I would have wanted to say, had my voice and heart not failed me. Continue reading “A Grief Beyond Words”

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Death at Christmastime


Rubens’ Massacre of the Holy Innocents from NationMaster.com

Death takes no holidays. We all know this but it would be too painful to acknowledge it during this season of supposed joy. Sometimes we are reminded of this undeniable truth on a grand scope, as happened during the Asian tsunami of 2004, which claimed an estimated 230,000 lives, and displaced millions. Its 4th anniversary was recollected on December 26 in homes and beaches from Indonesia to India. It is believed to be the deadliest tsunami in recorded history.

More often death arrives on a more modest scale, although the tragedy is not in any way diminished by the numbers involved. Whether it be 1 or 100,000, the pain and anguish can be overwhelming for those forced to confront it. This is even more heart-rending in the case of children dying. Continue reading “Death at Christmastime”

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