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When Death Hijacks Your Life…and Your Blog

A college friend was killed Monday, says Facebook, but my brain can’t process this. I read about the accident and think it can’t be. Death is unprocessable. Unfathomable. It slams down like thick darkness, and paralysis holds firm. I'm stopped; stuck; stunned.

My college friend lived far; I hadn’t seen him recently, but we were part of the same close knit community during those crucial years that shaped me. It was a sudden ripping of his life from here, swiped behind the thin veil that separates us from the next. Yet there is nothing thin about death’s thick solid immovable mass of permanence. He’s gone.

I sit and stare off far. Words don’t come. Only utter hopeless, helpless ache. Emptiness fills.

No problem to be solved; no broken thing to be fixed. No out. No choice. No mulligans or re-dos. Instantly. Suddenly. Gone. In the blink of an eye. No warning. No answers. No solutions. No nothing.

I think about his wife and my friend who not only mourns the death of her husband, but also the death of her brother just several weeks prior.

Death will not be set aside so as to get back to the business of living. It demands full attention, and there’s not enough ADD in the world to distract. Feet are planted and locked in place unable to move forward or backward. I am forced to sit and stay and acknowledge our enemy Death when all I want to do is run.

I go through my day in choppy motions. I can’t engage fully in life when death bears down. I come to the writing page to process. Except that I can’t.

I want to stay on Facebook and read all the posts, all the thoughts and hurts over this friend’s death. I want to sit in it, be in the community that mourns.

Death’s first reaction is to lean in close to those around you who have suffered this same loss. It’s this weird need to connect in order to be comforted.

In hell we huddle close to bring heaven down. It’s all we have.

But our comfort doesn’t suffice; it simply sustains.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 talks about the God of all comfort and how those who have been comforted by God can comfort others. It all sounds so magical and healing and SOLVABLE. Oh! We can just comfort each other right out of pain.

Except we can’t. It’s more like the inconsolable newborn whose tears and wailing cannot be soothed; but even so, mama or daddy holds them close, rocking and singing, caressing and shushing. We hold them until they finally give up and sleep.

Holding them doesn’t stop the crying or satisfy the suffering; it simply sustains them in their grief.

HELD is a song by Natalie Grant that I hate. It perfectly describes the hopelessness of death and how the only thing we can do for one another while we suffer is to be held.

Two months is too little

They let him go

They had no sudden healing

To think that providence

Would take a child from his mother

While she prays, is appalling

Who told us we'd be rescued

What has changed and

Why should we be saved from nightmares

We’re asking why this happens to us

Who have died to live, it's unfair

This is what it means to be held

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know

That the promise was that when everything fell

We'd be held

This hand is bitterness

We want to taste it and

Let the hatred numb our sorrows

The wise hand opens slowly

To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life

And you survive