A loved one dies and we are suddenly plunged into depths of pain and suffering we had no idea existed.... Why does this happen to us? Why does our loving God allow us to endure such agony? How long will it last? Will any good come of it?
Such questions only scratch the surface of all that goes on in our lives when we experience serious losses. What it all means varies considerably, but we can catch clues from just a few key reference points: myself - the other who has died - our relationship to each other - our openness or not to God's presence, action, and love.
Who am I and what has been going on in my life?
Who was this person who has just died and what was happening in their life?
How were we towards one another and what does their death mean to me?
Did either of us make room for God in our own life and in this relationship or not?
When such pain of loss tastes rather bitter, it is often an indication that our God is allowing us to catch a glimpse of something not quite right in this situation, and the bitterness is coming from that matter or issue that was or is wrong.
If in any of the key questions above there has been any selfishness, any sinful or unholy desires, anything evil, or unjust motives or manipulation, or anything at all that was evil, unholy, or selfish; then these realities are quite likely to manifest themselves through a bitter quality in the sense of loss.
As a simple example to illustrate this point, let us say that I cared for an elderly rich person, but because I was in dire financial straits myself, my motivation in caring for this elderly person was tainted by my survival instinct and secret desire for some monetary gain in return for my help. Fear of not receiving anything or not enough could generate a bitterness in my sense of loss.
If this elderly rich person for whom I cared was not a nice person but nasty, angry, even cruel, and by the grace of God I still loved them; then all through the time of my care for them, I could have accumulated a taint of bitterness affecting even what might have been in me a pure motivation to care for them.
If upon the death of the one I had cared for and loved their immediate family were to step in and unceremoniously cast me aside - as though what I had done was irrelevant to them - then this too could render bitter my sense of loss.
As you can see, at any point, any factor of impure motives, or evil intentions, or sinfulness, on the part of any of the parties involved could turn bitter any sense of loss which I might experience after having cared for a person whom I loved and who has now died.
Such bitterness is the kind of experience and feeling that almighty God wants to use in order to draw my attention to those dark factors; so that I might repent of any sin of which I may be guilty, that I might dissociate myself from any dark factor in the motivations of others and pray for them as I would pray even for enemies, and that I might allow the Lord to purify my intentions and my soul in order to become freer to love with a pure heart.
Perhaps one of the sweetest kinds of loss might take place when a beloved elderly person dies - one who had become a pure soul - and you who have been caring for him or her out of love experience deep and intense pain of loss.
In such a case we can easily understand how you, the care givers, would be in pain because the great love you exchanged with that elderly pure soul has come to a temporary end, temporary because one day, in the Lord's good time, you shall be reunited with him or her in the Father's House. The pain may give you pause or bring confusion and doubt, temporarily, but make no mistake. Now you are tasting a glimpse of Heaven... the only difference is that when it is our proper time to enter into the presence of the most Holy Trinity - the Father and Jesus his Son and the Holy Spirit - on that day we will be fully purified of human imperfection, sinfulness, and woundedness - and we will be able to endure the full intensity of the love of God without any pain.
That will be then, but for now, whenever God's love touches us, there can be pain, but it is like the pain caused by a doctor in the process of healing us. The cure often hurts for a while until the infection is completely cleansed and health returns. Remember when you were a girl or boy and you fell and deeply scraped knees and elbows and it hurt like hell? Then the medicine burned like crazy and bandages were applied. They continued to hurt, the wounds, until you got closer to healing. The first sign of healing was that the scabs began to tickle; so you began to pick at them even though your Mom told you not to. If you picked hard enough a scab came off and the wound hurt all over again, and you learned your lesson.
You are right. Your elderly charge was a pure soul. She / He lived long enough and was humble enough to allow God to purify her / him from all life's hurts, faults, and sins, and all that was left was a child-like soul in love with God and with people. She / He accepted to receive love, and did so with such a pure heart, that God's love radiated out from her / him to anyone who came close to her / him with pure intentions.
These wounds which you now suffer are glorious wounds... witnesses of God's forgiving, purifying, and healing love at work in you. All that God expects of you is to be docile, to trust, and to gently accept these sufferings as proof that the Holy Spirit is at work within you, distilling the pure life-giving love of the Father into the deepest recesses of your souls, cleaning out any gunk that may be lurking in those deep dark corners and admitting the pure light of eternity to make everything into light and love.
This is the most perfect form of patience - accepting to endure the pain caused by the purifying love of God, as in this case right now - or accepting to endure the pain which accompanies pure intentions and good actions, or accepting to endure what others cause us to suffer in order to love them. This is the example Jesus gave us when He accepted to endure the suffering we caused Him, and He did so in order to reveal to us the true nature of the pure love that God has for us.
All of this is the manifest action of the lordship of Jesus within you because you have been putting your trust in Him, you have been believing in Him, you have been accepting his call to follow Him and serve Him in others, like the elderly pure soul who just died, and now you are becoming more like Him, the One who wept over ancient Jerusalem because she would not receive his love. You have been giving the Lord Jesus permission to do his work with the Holy Spirit within you - which most of the time goes unnoticed - but on this occasion you feel pain at what the Lord is doing within you, purifying and cleansing. Rejoice and be glad, because this pain is not the kind that comes from hell, but rather the kind that prepares you for Heaven; in fact, it is even now a glimpse of Heaven which is so intense and wonderful that, for now, it hurts, but the hurt will not endure... while the love itself will endure without end.
Please feel free to share these words with whomever you will....
Peace to you and your family.