Grief Connects Us with Our Humanity

18 Feb

Four years ago today, we buried my father.

He died on February 12, 2005 of cancer at the relatively young age of 57. Earlier that week, I wrote his obituary, worked to organize the funeral program and helped my mom pick out a grave site, headstone and casket. The day of the viewing, we helped dress his lifeless body in his burial clothing. It was a season of intense emotions, tender feelings.

Two Sundays ago I visited his grave with my family and we took pictures, sang one of Dad’s favorite hymns and said a prayer. Then, on the actual anniversary of his death, February 12, I returned to the cemetery with my mom and brother Dan. This time was different. We stood quietly at the headstone under an umbrella to avoid the falling snow. We reminisced a bit about Kent’s life and its impact on our lives. My mom asked me to pray and I thanked God for my dad’s amazing life. I then said something that surprised me somewhat. I thanked Him for the grief that we were feeling at that moment. As I struggled to speak with tears streaking down my cheeks, I was thanking the Lord for the grief that I felt.

Ever since, I have been reflecting on these questions: Isn’t grief a negative emotion, something you try hard to get over? Aren’t we supposed to move on? Does grief equal despair? Does my grief somehow mean that my faith is not strong or that my hope in a glorious reunion on resurrection morning falters?

Truth be told, I grieve every day for the loss of my dad. That doesn’t mean I’m not a happy person or that I dwell on it constantly. It doesn’t mean I don’t live and love life to the fullest. But I do feel a sense of loss every day. My grief connects me to my dad; it helps me remember him. And while emotions aren’t nearly as raw as they were four years ago as we were preparing for his funeral, they surface often. And it hurts. It also feels good. That’s the paradox: the pain is welcome in some ways. It reminds me of the powerful feelings of love and loyalty I had / have for my father. It encourages me to think about his life and to remember his influence on me. The longing for an eventual reunion with him makes we want to live a better life, not only to honor my dad’s legacy, but to be worthy of a joyful reunion in the next life. So I embrace my grief because it is part of me now. I also embrace the wonderful memories that we shared. Finally, I embrace my faith in the power of Jesus Christ whose sacrifice overcame both sin and death. What are your thoughts on grief?

 Last year, I wrote the following on my blog near his death anniversary:

“Kent was a loving father and a good provider. He was also very much in love with my mother. He set a great example for all his children as a man who loved the Lord, who was totally committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I miss him dearly. I miss being able to call him on the phone and talk about the latest gadget (he would have loved the iPhone) or politics. Although I take great comfort in my firm belief that families are forever, I still wish every day that he were here with me. I wish he could be here to grow old alongside my sweet mother. But it was not to be…”

Here’s a little look back at his life through some video clips. He bears his witness of the gospel at the end of the video.

Miss you Dad!!


Posted by on February 18, 2009 in Spirituality


10 responses to “Grief Connects Us with Our Humanity

  1. Nate Lambert

    February 18, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Mom just brought me a copy of the letter that Dad’s former boss wrote about him. That was really special to see that and to be reminded of Dad’s enthusiasm for life. What a great example he was and what a great loss. None of my children even got to see him or meet him in this mortal life. What a shame.

  2. matt hansen

    February 18, 2009 at 7:44 am

    nicely spoken Andrew

  3. Pmom

    February 18, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Thanks for sharing that video, Andrew. It was beautiful.

  4. Robin

    February 18, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I think it’s true that grief is positive in some ways. The reason you have such grief now is that you had such a good relationship with your father when he was alive. You miss him, because you were close to him, and he was an important part of your life in so many positive ways. You are lucky. Many people do not have that kind of relationship with their parents. Grief is just a form of remembering what was, and feeling sorrow that it is no longer the same. Your father would be proud of you today! I wish you could talk sales with him…I’m sure he’d get a kick out of it (and would probably have a few good pointers!).

  5. Vicki

    February 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Andrew, that was beautiful!! Your words were powerful and true. I’m so glad we were together at his grave on February 12th. The video brought me so much joy–I love your Dad!!!!

  6. kira

    February 18, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Great video of our old man. Thanks man.

  7. Holly

    February 19, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Very true. How would we know the joy without the grief? Our feelings of grief serve as a reminder of all the joy we had with him. You’re just lucky you got eight extra years that I did not.

  8. Shannon

    February 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    The way you describe grief reminds me a lot of feelings of nostalgia. A feeling I always find very bitter sweet. The montage video of your dad is amazing. I got emotional watching it. I can’t imagine how your family must be experiencing his loss. My heart goes out to you.

  9. michelle wentz

    June 9, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    It brought tears to my eyes. Some day we will all be together again in the next world. We must make the best of this world and each of us will go when the time is right. I can’t wait to see my relatives on the other side. Michelle

  10. Natalie (Peterson) Clawson

    June 10, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I am sorry to hear about your dad. What a sweet video you have to remember him with and to show to your kids. I appreciated watching his testimony at the end. What a blessing to know that your family will one day be reunited. Thanks for sharing this.


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