Spring is here, bringing sunshine and blossom as a season of renewal begins.
But starting afresh — and even just facing the light — can be painful. If spring is a time to celebrate new life, it is also a time to be reminded of the life that has been lost.
I met a woman at church in Concord the other day whose father had recently passed away. This year, her dad’s birthday happened to fall on March 20 — the first day of spring. The fresh breeze, the new buds flourishing from formerly barren ground, and the clear sky seemed in such stark contrast to her sadness, that it amplified her grief to an almost overwhelming level.
If you’ve ever lost someone very close to you — like a parent or a child — you know the kind of pain this woman was going through. It can be crippling, just wanting to hear that person’s voice for a moment, or feel the warmth of their arms around you. You can lose sight of the world around you or block it out, running regrets through your mind over and over instead, or seeing terrible images of death in your mind.
One major problem with grief is that our society forbids its expression. One cannot even reply from the heart when someone asks, “how are you?” because the subject of death makes people feel awkward. What is there to say except, “I’m sorry,” which doesn’t even make sense in the context? Yet we all experience grief. Each one of us has a scar because of it. And experiencing grief means knowing the fundamental need to express ones pain to others.
Fortunately, expressing your grief at a church group means people listening, talking, hugging and praying for you, which is exactly what happened for the woman who was missing her dad. She talked about him, cried it out, and everyone left feeling a little closer to their loved ones — both present and past.
I can understand feeling sad at the onset of spring. Missing someone is hard enough without being reminded that there will be a time — soon, or perhaps later — when we have to move on. Just as we must shrug off winter, so too must we begin focusing on the life ahead instead of life left behind. We can’t take our lost loved ones into this new season, except in memory and heart, and such a realization brings pain anew.
But when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window. Lost love returns in some new way. In fact, the woman who was missing her dad said that a baby had just been born into the family, and she was very grateful for such new joy. The cycle of life — and love — continues to flourish, in colors never before seen.