- “Loss is life’s Long Non-Negotiable side: It is a time when we learn, unconditionally, that we are powerless over things we thought we had a grip on. But it doesn’t stop there, because every ending brings a new beginning”
Stephanie Ericcson (used without permission)
I was comforted to read this on a bookmark of the late Ryan Peralto, CD, former JLP Minister of Government in Kingston, Jamaica. “Every ending brings a new beginning” spells hope for me. I am in a strange place right now as I deal with the loss of my baby sister. She will be remembered always with a smile, and I will try to not wallow in too much sadness. It hurts so much and in such a strange way that words cannot aptly describe what I’m feeling. Nevertheless, I am fully aware that her death served some wonderful purposes, and these can be the “new beginning” for many of us. This, my dear Readers, is cause for celebration and hope!
1. Families we haven’t seen in years came together, and in the midst of our grief, we found reason to laugh, to talk, to catch up on lost years.
2. Every night since March 2, neighbors and friends gather at the house to sit and comfort the family, play dominos, eat, and drink (don’t ask what they drank?).
3. A community came together (never mind the ulterior motives for some) the Wednesday before the funeral, for the “grave digging”. This was truly a festive affair. We served over 250 plates of a full course meal and others still complained that they didn’t get fed. A small business owner came with his ice cream motor cycle and made some good money selling ice cream! We had a wonderful gathering and I was impressed to see the effect my sister had on this community where she spent her 35 years of existence.
4. The wake was held on Friday, and I was again intrigued by the number of people who left their warm beds to come and stand for three to four hours just to show their support and love for our family (and to get something to eat). [In the midst of this excitement, my Aunt was discharged from the hospital. She is incapacitated and no longer has the ability to recognize her family. Yet, she will open her eyes and look around as if searching. It was sad to see her in that state, but I was elated that she was out of the hospital and in the company of family who loves her and will do the best for her.]
5. The funeral on Saturday was also well attended. The little church on the hill was bursting in its seams. Over two hundred people were in attendance. The Member of Parliament for the area, together with his wife and son, took time out of his busy schedule to be in attendance. The Priest knew my sister well and spoke highly of her. The message was from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and if you have lost a loved one and still struggling to deal with it, I hope you will be comforted by these words:
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
I cannot sorrow as one who has no hope. I will be comforted by the words of the Apostle Paul, and I pray that you will be too. I look forward with earnest anticipation to the coming of Christ. My sister has finished her course and has moved on. My prayer is that her loss will be a new beginning for all my people who are still alive as they come to know and to serve the one true God. Be prayerful, persistent, and patient. Be full of hope, dear Readers, even in the midst of our sorrows.