Many who grieve wonder what life will be like when they are at last on the other side of grief. They need assurance that there is something beyond the momentary heartache of grief. They want to know whether they will ever again experience joy in their lives.
On the journey through grief, we question whether grief will leave us permanently damaged emotionally and spiritually. Seldom do we dare to imagine that grief might bear some gifts along the way. For example, what would it be like to live in a richer, more mature faith? Reconciling our experience of death and sorrow with the grace of faith leads us slowly but surely to the other side of grief. There we find there the inevitable outcome of our experience of grief—joy.
When we take a backward glance and see where we have been and what we have endured, more often than not we find that we have grown and changed spiritually. We are more understanding and tolerant with greater compassion for the humanity of others. Emotionally we are more resilient and capable than ever before in our lives.On the other side of grief we better understand the effect of our experience of grief on our soul and spirit. We thank God for the gifts of grief to our life.
Though life will never be the same as it was before the death of one we love, most certainly we find ourselves in a different place when we are on the other side of grief. When we get there, are we suddenly “over the rainbow”? Perhaps, perhaps not. Because we have lived for a while in the dark, colorless place of grief, we glory in the spectrum of light within the rainbow, the light of hope and joy. Beyond the rainbow we catch a glimpse of the future, with expectation for life as it is becoming. There we are again at one with ourselves, at one with life, and at one with God.
From the limited sightline of our mortality, on the other side of grief we better appreciate the magnitude of God’s love, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NRSVUE). God alone is large enough and great enough to see us through our grief. God alone brings us to this better place of peace and joy where we are again made whole.
And after we have grieved for a while—however long that may be—the light of new life beckons us forward toward the other side of grief. When we live in the light, we claim the victory over death and grief.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 118:1 NRSV