Today I watched my daughter bring her daughter, Scout, to where her Uncle Oliver’s ashes are in the garden. Maria read to her what is written there and they looked around the beautiful garden my wife has created.
It is strange to see my daughter visiting her little brother, who is no longer alive, with her daughter who is now five. Oliver was just six when he died, and his niece hears stories about his short, but full, life. It is in those stories that Oliver continues to live on and impact people who never even knew him.
Since she never knew Oliver, Scout will never grieve the loss of her uncle in the way her mom grieves her little brother. But Scout is learning about grief — she is learning that people do not need to fear it and that people learn to live with it. She is learning that loss hurts, that it makes her mom cry sometimes, and that it makes many people sad. But she is also learning that love continues beyond death, that people live on in stories, and that even those who are dead can teach us a great about life.
We do not seek grief, but we seek love, and grief is often part of the package. This draw toward love is a draw to God, who is love. We cannot help but be drawn to love others, although many push it away because the loss of love is painful. A life grounded in Christ knows that love, in its many variations in our life, is often fleeting. But the love from God can transcend our human understanding of love in an all-giving, agape, love. With this type of love as our basis, all other love can be freely sought knowing that no matter what pain it causes us, Christ is with us in that pain because his love for us knows no bounds, has no restrictions.
As my daughter talks to my granddaughter about Oliver, I know that Scout sees modeled for her a love that is not separated by death, a love that continues to grow. In that type of love she is seeing an example of God’s love for us. This is the greatest lesson a parent can share.