A friend who recently lost a loved one wrote to me with several profound questions. One that sticks in my mind tonight is the title. Does it ever stop hurting?
I guess this question remains on my mind because it is one that I asked so many times in the year following John Robert’s death. It is a question that unites all grieving people. The experience of grief is different for everyone because there are all kinds of circumstances of death. One may watch helplessly as their loved one dies slowly, others are caught by a sudden anguish. But no matter what experience you have, one must learn to live again … getting adjusted to the empty chair in the room, the vacant side of the bed, or the absence of conversation.
As the reality of the loss sinks in, a peculiar kind of hurt comes. It is a hurt in your heart. It is a physical pain in your gut. It is a pain that coexists with you, intensifying during periods of deep grief. Throughout that first year there are so many “firsts” … birthday, anniversary, holidays, special days. After months of this, one has to wonder. Does it ever stop hurting?
I’m no expert, but it seems to me that the answer to the question is … no. It doesn’t ever stop hurting. A man associated with pain and suffering and grief, also known as Job, said, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure” (Job 14:1-2).
But I do want to affirm that it does stop hurting like this. The sharpness of the pain fades over time, though it never fully goes away. The endless ache gives way to the ability to smile upon remembrances of the one we lost. Will the tears ever stop? Yes, they will stop falling as they do. But no, they will never cease.
Look around you. Read the paper. Every day there are a number of people who are leaving this life. For each name in the obituary there is a circle of family and friends … some of whom are entering for the first time this experience of grief that has haunted you so. If we can rise above our own hurt for just a moment we begin to realize we are surrounded by these suffering souls who somehow have determined to go on. A friend of mine who’s mother passed away remembered something that her mother had said. “Life is for the living.” As Job said, it all comes to an end too quickly by our reckoning.
You’re not alone in your grief friends. Maybe it’s true that at some point in everyone’s life they’ll wonder the same thing. Do you think God knew that question was coming?
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
Sissy’s Song by Alan Jackson
Thanks for reading,