A well-known mother in my small hometown just died of cancer. Her teenage children mourn her absence.
A daughter in my church back home perished in a snowmobiling accident last week. She had two small children.
A friend's fellow church member recently committed suicide, leaving his wife and three young children behind.
I didn't personally know any of these people. I selfishly thank God for having no such grief and heartbreak in my life. Then my thoughts turn to the families and friends of those lost and I can't bring myself even to begin to imagine or picture what such a life-wrenching event would be like.
I remember very well the woman from my hometown. She had cute kids with bright blonde hair just like hers. While I didn't see her often enough to miss her whenever I visit home, I'll always look at her kids with a sorrowful heart. She'll miss their graduations, weddings, birthdays, and her own future grandchildren.
Her kids won't ever again wake up to her making pancakes, nor will they again catch a glimpse of her stuffing Christmas stockings. They won't have that encouraging face on their first day of college or see her tears of joy on their wedding day.
The same void will cast a shadow over the lives of the other three families.
Their spouses said "I do" with visions of a lifetime together. They weren't expecting "until death do you part" to become real for several long and beautiful decades.
Death takes away life and sometimes inspires new life. It has this strange power over mortal humans make us double-check priorities and relationships. Today I'm thinking of those families often, but in a week will I feel so connected, or will I become raveled up and tangled in my own life once again?
Death makes us think outside our own lives. For a few minutes or a few days the world shatters and falls around us. We either grieve for a loved one or grieve with a loved one.
In a few years those families will have coped with their astounding lost and while their hearts will be tender, they will be healed. All we can do is be their support and pray for peace in their lives.