Imagine being a 13-year-old girl and your father having a heart attack. Just like that, your life is different. Just like that, your life sucks for reasons totally different than the usual (puberty, hormones, etc.). Just like that.

Imagine being a 40-year-old mother of two and your husband having a heart attack. Just like that, you are the sole caregiver. Just like that, your two girls are surrounding you with their grief. Just like that, you are a new classification of person, a widow.

Imagine trying to trust God for His will in this, through the haze of grief and sorrow, through the weight of responsibility and shock, through the piercing pain of death.

Death is all around us. It literally surrounds us. Just 100 years ago, families were larger and usually buried a baby before they got very far. So why are we so shocked when it touches us? We so cocooned into our own lives that we forget about death until it is just down the street, next family over, within spitting distance.

On the farm, and especially around fair time when the market animals are sold in such a high-profile way, we see death a little differently. That market lamb, much as we love him, is destined to die – he has to feed someone, and it is done by dying. He has to die. It’s part of the “circle of life.”

There’s another (better!) example of death being necessary, and we’re reminded of it every time we celebrate the Eucharist or ponder the crucifix. If Jesus hadn’t died, where would we be?

Still, with death as our neighbor and with the comfort we find in our grief, seeing this young family flounder and seek the warmth of each other the way a moth seeks flame leaves me feeling empty and makes me want to feed them (because, after all, when nothing else works, a meal is therapy, right?).

+Lord, have mercy. Give us your grace as we help each other through the pain of life.