Former US President Bill Clinton described a poignant moment at a memorial service in New York City following the 9/11 attacks. A representative from Great Britain was reading a speech written by Queen Elizabeth for the occasion. According to the President, it was a fine but not unusual speech until the end, when the Queen made a statement that visibly moved the audience. She said, "Grief is the price of love."
How painfully true those words can feel when you lose someone you love. Perhaps the Queen's intention was to help the healing process by turning people from absorption in sorrow to gratitude for how precious love is.
My mom proved the power of doing that. She struggled with grief after my dad's passing, but she chose to conquer it with gratitude for love.
When friends expressed their sorrow, she often ended up comforting them by talking about how thankful she was for the years she and my dad spent together. And she went forward as a happy and productive single woman for over 20 years.
Some people dealing with grief might object to my mom's approach as denial, or feel that their grief honors the one gone. While that's understandable, the concept that grief must be the price of love is worth questioning.
What may appear to be an undeniable truth from a human viewpoint changes when one considers the larger viewpoint of divine Truth, God.
The reason I don't believe that grief and love go together is that I accept God to be the eternal and perpetual source of love. Years of studying spiritual teachings have begun to etch into my consciousness that God is the totality of love itself.
All that is really good in our lives is a manifestation of divine Love with us. People we love, as well as animals and beautiful natural places, are expressions of God's all-pervading presence. Because God is constant, love can't leave or die. Love can't stop expressing itself anymore than truth can. All of love is present and alive, even if it isn't in the same visible form it was before.
God only causes good. Love doesn't cause separation and grief, but unity and joy.
So why do we grieve, and how can we get past it and move on with joy? We grieve because, as St. Paul wrote, "At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!" (I Cor. 13:12, J.B. Phillips).
The truth Paul is talking about is the truth he learned from Jesus' life - the oneness of all being and the eternal existence that is completely spiritual. No one can be separated from life because God is Life. No one can be separated from any good because God is all the good there is and is always here.
With persistent and dedicated effort, it's possible to feel these truths of spiritual life and goodness tangibly enough that grief and emptiness will disappear. Since my mom's passing earlier this year, I've seen how important gratitude is in gaining this consciousness.
When I walk into her room (now my home office), the first thought that sometimes hits me is how empty it is. It feels as though a big wave of grief is building and about to break on my head. But I'm learning to affirm quickly how grateful I am for all she taught me about love. I'm finding that gratitude for love can stop that wave. I often smile as I remember some good moment we shared.
There is a price for feeling the continual presence of love in our lives. Part of that price is unceasing gratitude.
The more gratitude we feel now, the more loved we feel now. Gratitude magnifies God's presence to us, a presence which is always now and which overpowers the sense of absence.
My prayers are still going out to feel more of the love that can't be lost. Great spiritual teachings urge people to grow from personal love that ends to universal love that is eternal.
Universal love is God's love that concerns itself equally with everyone. It can be felt whether one is alone or in the midst of family and friends. The Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the 'Peace, be still' to all human fears, to suffering of every sort" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 307).