So you have sorrow now.  But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

John 16:22


Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:

  • This mystical passage from Jesus’s Farewell Discourse by the Gospel Writer Called John comes from the section sometimes titled, “Grief to Joy.”
  • Although the disciples don’t understand him, Jesus is preparing them for his death. Similarly, our loved ones may wish to share their end-of-life desires with us. As they do, they help us prepare for life without their physical presence, so we grieve, but don’t mourn forever.
  • Jesus offers the disciples hope by explaining that present sorrows can become future joys. This hope isn’t flimsy or sugary, but strong and sustaining. It links us to the wonder and awe of everlasting life, the journey our souls travel.
  • Many mystics believe that when we die, we relinquish our bodies, not our souls. So death isn’t the end, but another experience. Likewise, some cultures believe that our loved ones can watch over us, remaining connected to us as guides.  Rev James Dillet Freeman describes this as “putting on invisibility,” meaning an essence of the person remains, even though we can’t see their physical form.  For example, they may appear to us in a dream, in words someone else speaks, or through a scent of their perfume.
  • Demonstration is the evidence you can see of what does or doesn’t work in your life. You demonstrate a healthy grief process as you attend to your self-care, acknowledging the sorrow of loss, but not allowing it to consume you. Prolonged anguish or excessive anger is not proof of your love, but may be a signal that you’re hopeless and stuck in your healing process.
  • As your sorrow gradually dissipates, you may notice that tears and laughter flow together, that you have capacity to laugh so hard you cry tears of joy. Even though you miss your loved ones, you find joy in telling their stories, sharing their gifts, and honoring their wisdom.
  • In her 2019 Grief Digest article, “Sorrow and Joy,” Therapist Jennifer Stern encourages a hopeful outlook. “Hope is the reconciliation that the intense pain of deep grief is temporary…  Hope is the clarity that remaining in deep grief perpetuates suffering and that it is worth the effort to try and live forward with courage, strength, and faith in yourself and in your life.  It is possible to feel more than sorrow.  You are not your grief.  You have the ability to carry your loved one’s memory as you continue on.”

Contemplation Questions:

As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:

  • As I grieve, what hope can I find in my life?
    • List, word map, or illustrate everything that gives you hope.
  • What are my joyful memories of loved ones?
    • List, word map, or illustrate as many memories as you can. You might enjoy doing this while looking at a photo, noting, for example, something like: Grandma loved bird-watching with her favorite binoculars.  Now I go bird-watching with them.
  • When I contemplate my loved ones’ joys, which do I want to share?
    • List, word map, or illustrate those joys.
  • When I imagine my own joys, what do I envision?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all you imagine.

As you use this devotional, remember that grief is a cyclical process.  Some days may be glorious, with barely a moment’s sorrow.  Others may be lonely and tearful.  However your grief process goes, treat yourself gently, with lovingkindness.  Remember that you are a divine child of God, truly loved, worthy, and deserving of all God’s goodness and grace, just as your loved ones were.  Let your faith support you as you heal.

Also, recognize that you’re your own person, not a carbon copy of anyone else.  If you have joys and desires which differ from your loved ones’, so be it.  You can still honor their love and cherish your memories as you live into the fullness of who you truly are.

© 2023 – Rev Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.

Photo from Shutterstock by TTstudio.

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