I think that I’m getting to be of a certain age. There is death all around me.
Not the hospital death that I have been walking with for the last few years.
Not the COVID deaths that we read about daily, the ones that are above the number of deaths we would expect. (In 2017, that was about 7708 people a day.) Since February, that number has grown with what are called “excess deaths”. There are reporting delays on deaths, but one CDC set of research suggests that 84,000 more people than usual have died since February 1, looking at all causes.That’s about 700 more people a day. Regardless of cause. that’s 700 families a day.
Not the individual person-ignoring, skin-color-influenced messed-up-system deaths.
I’m talking about deaths that I know of because I know people.
This wife. This uncle and grandfather. This mother. This grandfather. This father. This father. This sister. This friend. That mother. Sometimes I know the family. Sometimes I knew the person.
We know that dying is a result of living. We know that the death rate is 100 percent. But a person’s death is always a loss, and there is always a grief. These days, that loss is in the list of people who read these words with you.
As you know, I’m a words person. I find words for situations. Sometimes comfort. Sometimes prayer. Sometimes challenge. Sometimes encouragement. But more often than I’d like, I run out of words, or struggle to find the right ones. And I freeze. I’m behind on my list right now because I freeze.
You may be behind, too.
I say “this is hard” over and over. I say “God, we need you” over and over. I ask for peace and comfort over and over. So do you. We say it until we feel like we can’t say it any more, until it feels like a cliche.
But let’s not stop just because we cannot find the words or because it is loving to stay at a distance if we are compromised.
We can, Paul says and did, weep with those who weep. We can, as Jesus did, show up and talk and listen and weep. We can take a 3×5 card and a random envelope and write on the card “I have no words. I love you.” And sign it and send it. We can write emails with tears in our fingers. We can remember a week later and a month later. We can remember. We can show love.