“How long will the pain last?” A brokenhearted mourner asked me.
“All the rest of your life,” I had to answer truthfully. We never quite forget. No matter how many years pass, we remember. The loss of a loved one is like a major operation; a part of us is removed, and we have a scar for the rest of our lives.
This does not mean that the pain continues at the same intensity. There is a short while, at first when we hardly believe it; it is rather like when we cut our hand, we see the blood flowing, but the pain has not set in yet. So when we are bereaved, there is a short while before the pain hits us. But when it does, it is massive in its effect. Grief is shattering.
Then the wound begins to heal. It is like going through a dark tunnel. Occasionally, we glimpse a bit of light up ahead, then lose sight of it awhile, then see it again, and one day we merge into the light. We are able to laugh, to care, to live. The wound is healed, so to speak; the stitches are taken out, and we are whole again.
But not quite. The scar is still there, and the scar tissue, too.
As the years go by, we manage. There are things to do, people to care for, tasks that call for full attention. But the pain is still there, not far below the surface. We see a face that looks familiar, hear a voice that has echoes, see a photograph in someone’s album, see a landscape that once we saw together, and it is as though the knife were in the wound again.
But not so painfully. And mixed with joy, too! Because remembering a happy time is not all sorrow; it brings back happiness with it.
As a matter of fact, we even seek such moments of bittersweet remembrance. We have our religious services and our memorial days. And though these bring back the pain, they also bring back memories of joy as well.
How long will the pain last?
All the rest of your life! But the thing to remember is that not only the pain will last, but the blessed memories as well. Tears are the proof of life. The more love, the more tears. If this be true, then how could we ever ask that the pair cease altogether? For then, the memory of love would go with it. The pain of grief is the price we pay for love.
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