A Christian Science perspective: A mother learns to walk over, not into, grief and despair.
When my younger son passed on suddenly several years ago, I was devastated. Although he was a grown man at the time, he was still "my boy." I was a mother who had lost her child.
I needed to find some measure of comfort, or I knew I'd be overtaken with self-pity. I didn't want that. My son and I had always been good friends and, in recent years, business partners. I knew that he would certainly expect better of his partner than for her to dissolve in self-pity. Also, I reasoned, to lose something you have to have possessed it. And I had certainly never possessed my son.
Nor had I created him. The Bible says that God created man "in his own image." Because God is perfect and permanent, so is His image. The more I prayed to understand this powerful truth, the more tangibly I felt gratitude for my son's life taking control.
I was increasingly grateful for the privilege of having walked this earth with him, even though it was for fewer years than I had wished. But if the years weren't many, they were gloriously rich – rich in color and texture. Never bland.
He was a blacksmith – at first, a horseshoer, but ultimately a skilled sculptor in steel, creating everything from spatulas and fireplace tools to spiral staircases.
I was so proud of him, and my gratitude for the privilege of sharing his life magnified as I continued to reflect on his wonderful talents. These talents included not only his skill as an artist but his life skills as well: a grasp of the broad concept of things, a light touch, a sense of fun, music in his heart.
I prayed often with this passage from the Bible: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal. 3:10).
I needed to feel this blessing and partake of it. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, described "tithes" as gratitude, and as I filled my mental "storehouse" with gratitude, I discovered that having a heart truly grateful for my son's life and all the goodness he brought to our family and to everyone his life touched gave me strength.
Also, by striving to know God better each day and rejoicing in the very essence of God as divine Life every minute of every day, I learned to walk over, and not into, grief and despair. The good in each of us hints at the Life that is eternal. And we can celebrate Life – rejoice in it, triumph in it – every day.
As I made the consistent effort to bring each day in at a profit, so to speak, humbly asking God what I could do for Him, I found that my spiritual growth – beyond my healing of grief – was greater than I could have ever imagined. There's a lovely poem by Samuel Longfellow in the "Christian Science Hymnal" (No. 218) that I've found very helpful. My son also loved it, and I read it at his memorial service. Two of the verses are:
O Life that maketh all things new,
The blooming earth, the thoughts of men;
Our pilgrim feet, wet with thy dew,
In gladness hither turn again....
The freer step, the fuller breath,
The wide horizon's grander view;
The sense of Life that knows no death, –
The Life that maketh all things new.
As I look back, my learning to celebrate life has been like learning to speak a language that is at first unfamiliar: I had to think in English and then translate. Celebrating life was something I consciously thought about and did, all in connection with getting healed, and staying healed, of grief. Then one day the grief was not even a memory. And celebrating life became the very essence of my being.