In the Valley of the Shadow When Grief and Loss Prevail

Death. To speak the work evokes deep sensations. Sometimes fear. Sometimes anger. Sometimes wonderment. Sometimes acceptance.

From the womb, we are created as survivors. The will to live is powerfully tenacious, a motivator stronger than despair. As do the animal and plant kingdoms, we fight death with our inmost being. We liken death to defeat, to being overtaken by an evil enemy.

Such imagery is not unbiblical. Utopian Garden of Eden quaked at the introduction of humans tasting death. Hebrew characters spent incredible amounts of energy defending the lives of thier people and themselves. The apex to the Christian narrative is a 30-plus year old carpenter’s son facing death squarely in the eye, all the while promising onlookers resurrection for himself and for them. The apostle Paul refers to death as the ultimate enemy, an enemy who has been de-fanged.

We spend our lifetimes dancing with death, though not always consciously. We know that nature’s life cycle depends upon the death of current residents. We acknowledge our daily bread comes at the cost of something dying on our behalf. We confront the harsh, ugly reality of death when a loved one dies, leaving us devastated and robbed.

The valley of the shadow of death is a place of loss, of bereavement, of unspeakable pain. But shadows, over time, lessen their impact as small amounts of light bring snippets of renewal.

With honest expressions of grief, with encouragement from fellow “losers,” and with time, God brings us new resevoirs of faith, hope, and love.

Author: Virgil Fry


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