My home in the country lost one of its more unique features last weekend. Heather, our white swan, was killed. She’d been sitting on a nest of eggs and had taken to sleeping on her nest rather than seeking the safety of the pond. This—and her coloring—made her easy prey for a coyote or fox on a late-night stroll. We woke Saturday morning to a trail of white feathers across the yard.
Death Is Natural
This loss of Heather (while pretty, she made messes that led to nicknames of “Loosie Goosie” and “Dirty Birdy”) came on the heels of my mother-in-law’s death on May 3rd. Just as our area is greening up and trees and flowers are in bloom, my family experienced two reminders that death is a natural part of life.
I guess these reminders, while unwelcome, are somewhat appropriate as we near the close of the Easter season. After all, as Christians we believe that life follows death. We see this in our natural world as spring follows winter. We cling to the promise of new and eternal life with God following the death of our earthly bodies. The joy and hope of Easter follow the loss and grief of Good Friday.
Moving On in Faith
Life goes on after death, and so must we after our losses. Our faith softens but doesn’t erase the hurt. Elizabeth “Buffy” Bookser Barkley offers this prayer in her new book Life after Death: Practical Help for the Widowed:
Loving God, be with me in this time of sadness, pain, and uncertainty. I feel disoriented, and hunger for a time before death transformed my life. Hold me gently in the palm of your hand. Help me to believe that this pain is temporary, and that after darkness, I will find light and peace. Amen.
While I don’t know the depth of the pain and disorientation of losing a spouse or even my own parent—yes, I realize that losing a swan doesn’t quite compare—I walk with those who know these losses too well. I trust that some future day when the loss is my own, others will walk that road with me. May we all walk with confidence that faith in our Lord will make the unbearable bearable and that we need never walk alone.