Grief is a wild ride. We might map its face, predict its stages and guess how long it might last. But this is the luxury of those who, for now anyway, have not been pulled into the land of loss. They have the luxury of observation. But when the loss of a loved one takes up residence in our heart and soul, we become occupied territory.
Perhaps that is why I like the emotionally distraught Jesus being swept on a tidal wave of grief towards the tomb of his friend Lazarus. Only love could have caused the grief in His heart and
in the hearts of Martha and Mary. We are all eager for love but in our eagerness we forget that every affectional bond we make will be broken by death. The truth we realise is - the deeper the love, the deeper the grief.
Of course, we don't think about this when we are giving our hearts away. Within our short lives, the advent of Love carries the seed of grief. Gabriel Marcel said, ' To love someone is to say, 'Thou
shalt never die.' Even if we do not say it out loud, even if we only whisper it in the cellar of our heart, love readies us for tears. The first kiss and the first tears are linked.
It is here we must not forget that this same love will console us. But we must trust this love to take us all the way. It must reveal to us that there is more than meets the eye
here. This love which holds us at the bedside of the dying and takes us to their graves after they die, is telling us something very important about God’s love. Our reluctance to let loved ones go makes sense as we watch Jesus raising Lazarus from death. The Love that distresses Jesus, that makes Him weep uncontrollably and makes Him go after Lazarus and free him is worth pondering. Love will not let him go so death has to set him free.
The Song of Songs 8,6 sings of the Love that is stronger than death. In the face of the stench of death, this insight may not come easily to us. We might find ourselves being drawn to other solutions to our pain. But it does seem to me that the more we grow our contemplative heart (Mary) and integrate what we find there into our busy lives (Martha) we will find an enduring strength that will bring us through to the other side of grief.
Love brings grief and consolation. St. Paul put it best of all when he wrote, "Do not grieve as others do who have no hope." It is the weeping Jesus who cries out, 'Lazarus, come out!'