Advent Reflection – Grief and Hope

On the Friday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, a man was killed in a car accident in a tunnel in Boston. Reading the newspaper report caused pain of the sort that anonymous news sometimes brings. The “Why, Lord?” that stays only until I am distracted by the next sad news item.  Finding out that the man was the father of a friend and colleague, the stable force in her family, brought on a more personal sadness for someone I know. His death has caused grief and pain of the sort that makes your throat catch, and gives you butterflies in your stomach and inability to concentrate. It’s a grief that you can taste.

The funeral was held yesterday in a Catholic church, with bright sun shining through the beautiful stained glass window depicting the Last Supper. The grief was palpable. Where is hope in this situation? What can be said to offer care and comfort?

I read somewhere that grief sets its own agenda, it cannot be controlled. You don’t know when it will flood over you and whether the manifestation will be tears, nausea or distraction. Hope seems so false when grief is so real. Words are ineffective and empty, Bible verses can bring more pain.

But one thing does seem to bring comfort. The presence of a person.  Being available, not with words but with our presence. Not a false hope that says “Is there anything I can do for you?” when there are no words to express what may be needed. Not a phone call that is lost every time we are out of range of a cell phone tower. But the fullness of our presence. In the midst of grief, the presence of one who loves can offer hope and comfort.  And that is a picture and glory of the hope of Advent. That in the midst of our grief, God became present among us.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

12 thoughts on “Advent Reflection – Grief and Hope

  1. This wonderful blog/post is written supposedly for ALL types of people.I am spiritual,but do not believe in organised religion,though I have experienced many years of Christianity-which halted my life-growth remarkably.How about some encouragement for suffering people who are atheist/agnostic/non-religious though spiritual?

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  2. Perhaps it is no surprise then that in the final fulfillment of the promise of ‘Emmanuel’ — when God is FULLY with us — one of the main things we are assured is: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”(Rev 21)

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  3. The son-in-law of friends of ours died 10 days ago and the funeral was on Friday. He was only 47 yo and had had a brain tumour. His wife had been nursing him for 7 years and he has two teenage sons. Although I couldn’t go to the funeral, I was able to ring Marie, the wife’s mother and we’ve been praying for them through all of this. I never know what to say or to pray but I think you’re right, sometimes just wordless love, being present and supporting them is the only thing you can do.

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  4. I was thinking about grief and hope last night during my devotions. A friend of mine told me of a car accident that just happened this past week. 9 badly injured and 1 passed away. And I kept saying to myself, “What a hopeless situation”. And all I could do was look up to heaven and say, “God, you are their hope.” God’s presence will be our hope.

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    1. That is exactly how I have felt with the same conclusion. And while anytime is difficult to face loss, this particular period with the expectation that all will be “Merry” is even more difficult. Advent, with the promise, expectation and then arrival of hope is what I cling to as well. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  5. And His Name is Immanuel, “God with us.” Two women in our church are facing their first Christmas without their husbands of many years. I don’t say much to them, and can’t say I understand – I haven’t gone through it. But it seems helpful to them just to have someone who is willing to listen to their memories, to just give them a hug. They need to feel free to talk about how hard it is even after many months. It’s the permanence of this goodbye, the lonely nights, sitting in church without that life long companion, just seeing other women who still have their husbands beside them. God IS with them, but they, like all of us, need a human shoulder to cry on, a human ear to listen. Thanks, Marilyn for that reminder.

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    1. So beautifully said Mom – Thank you. I think belonging to a big family can make it easy to forget how much loneliness there is in loss and how much we are made for connection.

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      1. We are SO made for connection – connection with God and with one another. – Marilyn I love your blogs. God has given you a gift. Thank you for blessing us with it.

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