When there is a death or a really big problem, I have turned to some excellent books on the subject of human suffering.
There are two things to read when experiencing pain. One is how to deal with it. The other is to try to understand it.
One of my favorite authors, CS Lewis, wrote a wonderful book entitled ‘The Problem of Pain.’ In defining suffering, he says:
‘In the most complex of all the creatures, Man, yet another quality appears, which we call reason, whereby he is enabled to foresee his own pain which henceforth is preceded with acute mental suffering, and to foresee his own death while keenly desiring permanence.’
That sums it up neatly. We aren’t permanent. Our loved ones aren’t either. We witness this, and we suffer. Unfortunately, understanding that we are going to lose those we love, doesn’t nullify the suffering we go through when we lose them.
We lose people two ways. First, through personal conflict. Probably the worst way, because we throw away time together for petty differences. The second way is through death. While death seems awfully drastic, and we suffer way more by loss through death, we will hopefully be reunited with them through eternity.
I hope to enjoy the relationships I have as much as possible now, but I know I won’t. I have been worse than average at maintaining good relationships, but I’m not a hypocrite, I purpose all of the time to do better by the ones I love. I pray and hope and wait. With God’s help, these relationships will get better. It will take time.
Lewis, C. S. (2001). The Problem of Pain (p. 2). New York: HarperOne.