“All tears will be wiped away”
Editor’s note: A tragic side effect of the recent mass shootings is mass grief—the many broken hearts of those directly connected to the shooter’s victims and grieving hearts around the world reeling at the news. While there are many questions to address in relation to such incidents (visit jsh.christianscience.com/safety-from-violence for a collection of articles that have a spiritual take on some of these issues), the author of this article throws a light on how we can deal with grief, by sharing how she dealt with learning that her father had died.
A few minutes after hearing a voice mail saying that my father had passed on, I got a call from someone who wasn’t in the habit of calling out of the blue. It was my Christian Science teacher, and I was so grateful that he listened to this spiritual intuition and rang me.
I answered through tears because I was so overwhelmed with my sense of loss. After asking a few questions, he assured me that, however awful things felt, divine comfort was at hand. One way he expressed this was by telling me that I would keep knowing my dad. While I couldn’t know him as the familiar presence I was used to having in my life, I would come to know him spiritually.
At the time, I couldn’t imagine how that would work. But I knew that what had been shared with me had come from listening for God’s direction and that earnest prayer to understand this message would reveal more to me.
I’d heard that there were several stages of grief that psychologists identify, and over those first few days it seemed as if every one of them made an appearance in my thought. I couldn’t believe the loss and was angry about how it had come about. I thought of how I’d do anything to change the way things had gone, feeling sad and sorry for myself, and for my young daughter, who wouldn’t have this wonderful man in her life.
I struggled with what to say to a 15-month-old child who, though just a toddler, had a strong relationship with her grandfather. I found myself saying that death meant we wouldn’t be seeing “Da” the way we were accustomed to, but that his love for her would carry on, and that we would find him in new ways. He would still be a part of her life.
As time went on, I began connecting with a larger sense of life that includes all of us. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “To be ‘present with the Lord’ is to have, not mere emotional ecstasy or faith, but the actual demonstration and understanding of Life as revealed in Christian Science” (p. 14).
I began connecting with a larger sense of life that includes all of us.
In those moments of feeling God’s presence, of feeling the vastness of divine Love, the unstoppability of Life, and the actuality of Spirit wherever time and space appear to be, the stages of grief seemed to evaporate like a mist when the sun shines through. Sometimes these moments would come as a result of study—reading Scripture, where the theme of Spirit’s, God’s, omnipotence is so consistently repeated. And sometimes it would just come as a quiet realization that whispered, “Life is real and can never be lost.”
I began to see that the sorrow, the anger, and the feeling of loss were not as conclusive as they’d originally seemed. They were the reactions of mortal mind—a kind of thought that starts and ends with material conditions and leaves God out of its calculations. But cracks in this merely personal, material sense of my father and our relationship began to appear—and the light of spiritual sense poured in.
St. John, describing the spiritual vision he had on the island of Patmos revealing “a new heaven and a new earth,” wrote, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:1, 4).
In relation to John’s vision, Eddy notes: “Take heart, dear sufferer, for this reality of being will surely appear sometime and in some way. There will be no more pain, and all tears will be wiped away. When you read this, remember Jesus’ words, ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility” (Science and Health, pp. 573–574).
During the next year, each time my daughter recognized some beloved quality of her grandfather in someone, she would turn to me and say, “There’s Da!” Late that summer at a family reunion, she sat down with a cousin we’d never met before, who was about my father’s age. When I came by, I heard him singing World War II-era Canadian army songs to her—the same tunes my father had sung over her cradle to help her sleep. It provided strong confirmation that not even those sweet human gifts associated with her grandfather could be lost.
When some form of grieving would creep in, a thought of loss or disappointment with life, I learned to turn my thought back to the reality of God’s care and to trust in its completeness. And as I had been assured, in that peaceful sense of Life’s wholeness and eternality, I became more and more aware of those qualities I associated with my father continuing and expanding in their meaning for me. The pull to agree with the notion or the necessity of ongoing sorrow lessened, until it disappeared.
God really is with us, no matter what, and this comes to light as the omnipresent inspiration that life is so much more than meets the eye, that good is infinite and truly authoritative, and that relying on spiritual sense brings to light more truth, more goodness, more of the infinite ever-presence of Love.