The loss of a loved one is always painful. The physical separation cuts deep into our psyche, affecting that part of us solely reserved for the connection we shared with the lost and bears sobering awareness of our own mortality. The continued lack of access is a constant reminder that there are no do-overs, the scoreboard is off and the game is in the books. How we view life most affects our interest in the scoreboard, others’ and our own.
There is, however, a certain hollow, reverberant sadness that echoes the loss of an estranged loved one. Someone loved, but one who chose a life which in the end, there remains only a disappointing void of previous and now permanent loss of opportunity for the gathering of anything other than the few remaining good memories, obscured by a lifetime of un-pleasantries.
How does one look at the aggregate actions of a life at its closing and apply value. Life value is measured on what scale? Human nature is to use a ledger…to keep score. We all do it. We do it to ourselves. We do it to others. We count balls, strikes, hits, runs and errors. We say this was wrong and that was right. We judge. It is much easier to accept the passing of a loved one whose ledger always tallied in the black. The difficulty lies in the accounting of those with a lifetime of withdrawals with little or no appreciation of their debt and its effect on the lives having underwritten egocentric behavior. Their ledger with us now being closed, deeply in the red.
Christians are guilty of continuing to place checkmarks in our mental ledgers about ourselves and others even after accepting Calvary’s negation of any need for the monitoring of someone’s debits or credits. It is in our basal nature. Perhaps it can only be with true unconditional love, the kind of love a parent has for a child or the heavenly father has for his children, that we can see the proper appraisal of a life that on any scale has not measured up. Our judgment will always be short. Only when we completely understand that concept will we ever see the real value of what Jesus did on that cross.
I won’t profess to have all the answers. Frankly, as I’ve grown older, my world has grown much less black and white. However, the one lesson I constantly carry away from the examination and celebration at the loss of friends and family members is that, regardless of what the afterlife may bring, the only reality with which we should concern ourselves is the selfless living of the one we now navigate. At each funeral, it appears more obvious that, at the end, a life invested in others was the worthwhile life and one to be emulated.