Wow! I got rocked this week when I heard the news that my cousin in law, Kent Monson had died in a motorcycle accident near Chicago, Illinois. This is the first time in my life that I have dealt with the pain of losing a loved one. It's terrible.
You have to understand something about my wife's family. We are all very close. I still remember going to the first few family gatherings; Michelle's always been so proud of her loud, outgoing, crazy family. Because of this, I've become close with all my in laws, including Kent.
Kent is the life of the party. He's crazy. He walks into a room and it literally gets brighter. Everyone who knew him loved him. He's a true friend. He has a huge passion for God. And he takes risks and lives life to the fullest. One of the things that is hardest for me is that I can't help but feel he had so much potential for his life. I wouldn't have been suprised if he made his first million within the next decade, and bought his parents a new house or something, and Brittany a new car (and maybe us a little something, since we are all close : ). He put his heart and soul into everything he did, and that included his work at the shop. He bought the most expensive tools and was always talking shop even though it was way over our heads.
I remember meeting Kent, and feeling a sort of connection to him as if he was Michelle's brother. Michelle and Krista have always looked at him as a type of brother. I told Michelle she needs to legally adopt Brittany as her sister now. It meant so much to me to get the approval from Kent to date his cousin. He is a tough cookie on the outside, but soft and gentle on the inside - and I think he liked me a lot from the start. Michelle told me yesterday how Kent would beg her and a bunch of friends to go to Monday Night Jam, a worship/revival movement happening at my high school (over an hour from their area). Kent was a leader, and so sensitive to the work of God. He didn't fake it, but he couldn't help but respond when it was for real.
Part of how I process stuff is by studying and learning all I can. I want to respond to this in a healthy way, but I don't know the proper protocall. It's really hard to understand meaning in all of this, and it seems so trite to say we just have to trust God. All the token Bible phrases seem so improper and sacriligeous in a time like this. I keep telling Michelle that we are concentrating constantly on Kent, his life, his love and his death, and rightfully so. This, for a time, keeps us from seeing anything else of God and a world full of 7 billion others, still alive, needing love, truth and a whole lot of what Kent had.
I jumped on Wikipedia a few days ago, and read all about grief cycles and emotional tears, because I want to know anything that will help. The first day the whole family found out, we all got together and balled. It was hard and healing at the same time. I guess studies have been done that have defined grief cycles and processing this kind of stuff and it goes in an order something like: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I'm not really sure at this point if every person's grief fits into a cookie cutter model, but I definitely have experienced a strong impression of the first three.
Emotional tears (psychic tears) was interesting because we are the only species on earth that produce this type of tear, and according to Wikipedia, it releases all sorts of healing balms into our bodies and souls: things like prolactin, which is a similar component to a breast feeding infant, or leucine enkaphalin, which is a natural painkiller. It's as if, even since the creation of the world, God built us in such a way to bring hope and healing in our darkest hours.
God created us with the ability to cry emotional tears and mourn, and it is such a Biblical practice. Jesus set the pace by mourning over the loss of his cousin, John the Baptist. Although Scripture tells us to "not mourn like those who have no hope," it in no way says don't mourn at all. Rather, this verse brings comfort, in reminding us of the most comforting thought of all - that we have hope in life after death. Jesus said, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Kent didn't die. Kent just got transported into a new and far better life. He's dancing with Jesus and racing on the autobahn of heaven. He's in a place where "God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Only the living regret the leaving (when we have Christ as our Savior). And as for us down here on earth, it gives us a great sense of the passion to fulfill the purpose of God for our lives. Tomorrow is not promised. Cherish those you love. Rejoice always, because of our hope in heaven because of Christ.
"Where oh death is your sting? Where oh grave is your victory?"