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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

Death and Separation

July 29 was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 80 years old. It was fifteen years ago that my siblings and I said goodbye to her for the last time. Her death was the most difficult loss I have experienced thus far in life.

The separation anxiety caused by her death has had lingering effects in varying degrees on each of us. From missing the relational context of a conversation or just a simple smile. To the physical reality of a hug, you had known your entire life. “Death and separation” have left an untold scar on us all. I have found a true irony exists as I wrestle with the pain and confusion “death and separation” can cause. It is found when I think about my mom.

You see, though I still miss her, I no longer think about the loss and grief her death brought. Instead, I remember our time together and the joy those memories bring to my life.

I believe this is a gift from God! The power of “death and separation” can also be seen when we read about what Jesus of Nazareth experienced on the Cross at Calvary. From His cry, “Father, why have you forsaken me” to His final words, “it is finished”, we see the anguish and finality He experienced as He gave up His life.

As with the joy I have when remembering my mom, the gift resulting from Jesus’ sacrificial death and separation from His Father was the reconciliation between the Creator and His Creation. The question we need to ask ourselves is, can we experience “death and separation” and still focus on the joy that can be found in our loss? I believe we can if we stop thinking about ourselves long enough to realize the struggles in life of those we have lost are finished and the gift we have been left with is the joy our memories of them bring us.

Regardless, the reality is loss is real and is not limited to death. Loss can be experienced during times of abandonment when relationships are broken or as people move on with their lives.

This, once again, is magnified by the willingness we all have to focus on ourselves and our disappointments instead of on the opportunities we have, to live and to love those around us while we can. Will this ever change? Will we ever see the joy people bring to our lives while they are still with us? Or we will wait until they are gone before we realize it?

Even as I write this, there are those who will immediately think of themselves, their past hurts, pains, and losses instead of thinking of the joy those relationships brought to their lives.

Nevertheless, my hope and prayer is we will realize, though “death and separation” causes one season of our lives to be finished, it is opening our hearts and minds to the season that lies ahead of us. This is where life and connection replace “death and separation” and this is where joy is found!!! Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”

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