My condolences to the family and friends of Wonshik Shin '19, whom I met through Community Action during his freshman year. I will remember his curiosity and smile with fondness.
I wish I could say that because I’m a Christian, I don’t miss departed loved ones. The Church may teach that there is life after death, but Christians are not immune from the tidal waves of grief. Death sucks and there’s no way around that. Jesus knew this when He wept over his friend Lazarus' corpse, and Mary knew this as she held her dead son in her arms. And for many members of the University community this winter, it is difficult to reconcile God’s bountiful grace with the harrowing loss of a friend.
From my own experience, some Christian communities tend to gloss over the crucifixion and fixate on the resurrection, move past grief to new life. In an attempt to console, a well-meaning person may say something like, “Well, he’s in a better place now,” or “Everything happens according to God’s will.” And, while these statements may ring true theologically, that doesn’t mean that they aid the grieving process. The time to heal, to laugh, and to dance will come soon enough – in fact, the Church will celebrate that time at Easter! But for now, we are called to weep, to grieve, and to mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9).
And so I would encourage all to pause at the cross, to allow space for the crucifixion. Take time to call out to God in confusion and anger, just as Jesus did in his final hours. Take the opportunity to kneel at the cross and pray for the preservation of humanity, just as Mary and devoted disciples did at Golgotha. Seek Christian community where grieving is allowed; let yourself weep. Speak to a chaplain and seek guidance from CPS.
And when the time is right, look toward the resurrection. Thank God for His constant loving-kindness and pray that He may help you heal, laugh, and dance – that He might reaffirm your faith in eternal life.
O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon our sorrows. Remember us, O Lord, in mercy, nourish our souls with patience, comfort us with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon us, and give us peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (“Prayer for a Person in Trouble or Bereavement,” The Book of Common Prayer, page 831.)
Carolyn Beard is a junior in the Department of Comparative Literature from St. Louis, Mo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.