Prayer in Time of Grief
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
God of life and death, You have taken a beloved one from me. My heart is very heavy. I recall that Your Son, Jesus Christ, became man in all things except sin and that He groaned in sorrow at the death of His friend, Lazarus. I unite my grief with Yours dear Jesus, as You stood at the tomb of Lazarus.
O Virgin Mother, you know what it was like losing your husband Joseph, and then your child. dying suspended between earth and heaven, with a sword piercing your sweet soul. To you do I come in sorrow, begging strength from your intercession, from you who fully understand what it is like to lose one so dear and close.
Share with me, dear Mother of God, the courage, the strong faith that you had in the future resurrection. Even after Jesus came back to life and ascended into heaven, you knew you were to be left alone for many years before your own assumption into heaven. You comforted the Apostles as their Queen and Mother during those years. Grant comfort to me now as I sorrow in pain at the loss by the separation that has come as a result of the sin of our first parents and my own sins. Wipe away my tears with the merciful love of your Immaculate Heart as you unite me with my loved one through the grace of the Sacred Heart of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
I had been fortunate in my life and avoided great tragedy, until the death of my son a month ago on May 19. My mother and father died, both too young, and their deaths saddened me greatly. However, it is in the nature of things for parents to die before their children, and although I still miss them greatly, their passing did not overwhelm my life with grief. My son Larry’s death is a completely different matter. I have experienced the depths of grief at his young, and completely unexpected, death, and I miss him constantly and think about him all the time. In my sorrow the only thing that truly makes sense to me is the thought, as Shakespeare put it in Henry V, “We are in God’s hand brother, not in theirs.” For His purposes God took my precious boy from this world and I must trust in His goodness and mercy for my son, his mother, his brother and sister, and for me. At Larry’s funeral mass I quoted Job: “The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Many people find that a hard message to accept but I embrace it fully. Without God my dead son would be nothing, I would be nothing and all that I love would be nothing. With God, this brief life is a mere doorway into splendor unimaginable and a love that surpasses understanding. In the grief I experience now I truly understand, with my heart, as I always have with my mind, my utter and absolute dependence upon the grace, mercy and love of God. Throughout my life God has given me a fairly easy path. Now a harder path beckons, and my family and I must walk it with the same faith in God that we walked the easier path. However hard the path I know the joy that await for those who walk it in faith, the same indescribable joy my Larry is now experiencing:
The more one thinks about it, the worse it becomes. He got through so easily! No gradual misgivings, no doctor’s sentence, no nursing home, no operating theatre, no false hopes of life: sheer, instantaneous liberation. One moment it seemed to be all our world; the scream of bombs, the fall of houses, the stink and taste of high explosive on the lips and in the lungs, the feet burning with weariness, the heart cold with horrors, the brain reeling, the legs aching; next moment all this was gone, gone like a bad dream, never again to be of any account. Defeated, outmaneuvered fool! Did you mark how naturally-as if he’d been born for it-the Earth-born vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself! “Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottleneck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?”
The Screwtape Letters