A time to weep and a time to laugh

By | April 12, 2019 8:50 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

James David was supposed to be in bed, but, instead, his mother heard his bare feet padding down the stairs. She also heard a sniffle. James David is 8 and the youngest of four. His mother is the oldest of our four. They live in West Virginia.

James David was not just buying time to avoid bedtime; he was genuinely troubled. As he ran to his mother’s arms, he burst into tears. She held him for a few minutes, while he tried to speak. Finally, he blurted out the words that expressed the feelings of his broken little heart.

“I miss Darlin’!”

Less than 24 hours earlier, Grandad had gotten out of bed and made a trip to the bathroom.  There he found Darlin’ on the floor. She was already dead. A few hours later, the children were told. Darlin’ had finished years of declining health and was now in heaven.

The Nash kids call us Nahnee and Papa. Their other grandparents have always been Darlin’ and Grandad. Pat was Darlin’ because that was what she always called them, so they simply learned to address her by the name she used to address them.

Upon learning of her death, all the children had shed tears, but now, a few hours later, the youngest child was bawling. He could hardly control his grief.

You understand, don’t you? We grieve when we lose someone we love. Even when we know they are “in a better place.” Even when we realize “their suffering is over.” Even when we can rationalize that “they are completely healed now.” Even when we’ve been around death, a lot. Even when we’ve seen many people die but especially when we are pretty new to this experience of being parted by death. Especially when our heart is tender, innocent, young. Especially when we’re 8.

Thinking back on my own experiences with death, I recall rivers of tears. I cried when my pets died…still do, in fact. When I was a child, I found one of our barn cats, suffocated, head stuck in a tin can that must have smelled like something good to eat. I retreated to the cab of my dad’s pickup truck and wept. When we had to have our old mule “put down,” it broke my heart.

By the time I was 18, I had stopped crying. Then my grandmother Johnson died. I was working, in Chicago, between my first two years of college, and I beat myself up for not being with her while she was on her deathbed. She had always been there for me.

Throughout the funeral home visitation and the memorial service,  I held it all in. At the cemetery, I was about to explode with emotion I tried to hold in. Then, finally, after her body was lowered into a hole behind that little frame country church, I walked to the corner of the building, and, with face buried in my hands, the dam burst, and I sobbed…uncontrollable, body-quivering weeping. Wailing! Sobbing! Blubbering!

Grief is normal. At the tomb of His friend, Lazarus, Jesus wept.

Many times have I wept.

When Darlin’ died, James David wept, and so have many others.

There is a time to weep, and we should share the grief of others.

Paul told the Romans, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep…”

And never, ever forget…for those whose hope is in the resurrection of our Lord, Christ…”weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30)

Steve Playl, chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor, playlsr@yahoo.com

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