Bereavement and grief had become like a monster, tethered outside my house. When I left the door, the monster would snarl and growl menacingly. Whenever I returned it would jump out at me barking and showing its teeth. It kept me awake some nights howling.
In the paralysis caused by grief I felt hopeless and defenceless against the noise and smell of this monster. My response was to seek to remove the monster, to have it taken away or chased away by God. I prayed and sought the prayers and support of others. Someone suggested grief counselling.
As the counselling progressed I had a dream. In the dream something happened that seemed utterly absurd, but proved to be the solution to the problems I faced, that were overpowering me. I unfettered the monster and invited it into my home, offering hospitality, care and friendship. It had a room to live in and ate with me and my family and socialised with us. Almost over night the monster shrank to a much more manageable size, fitting within the space of my life.
As a follower of God in the Way of Jesus, befriending death has helped me understand that life is precious and so should be enjoyed and that as well as death being part of life, life is also part of death. The Christian hope is that the body (or cremated remains) laid in the ground is like a seed. Somewhere, just out of sight a new sapling is beginning to grow which will flower into new and forever life in Jesus.
I’m still apprehensive about the process of death, when and how that will occur for me (and my loved ones), but taming the monster has given me a deepening peace about my long-term future and is helping me to be free to enjoy the life I have left on this wonderful earth.