Thoughts on Death and Grief

Thoughts on Death and Grief

from “The Tears of Abraham,” an essay by R.R. Reno:

Abraham�s mourning over Sarah tells us something about the psychological effect of what Hans Urs von Balthasar calls �the dramatic rhythm� of salvation history. The covenant promise cannot help but sharpen the outlines of human experience. The future that God promises throws death into a new light. When he calls Abraham, God begins to awaken sin-slumbering humanity. We are created for fellowship with him, not for the grave, and inevitably what had been accepted as a fact of life becomes a brutal, unnecessary blow. Thus the psychological paradox of faith: a belief in God�s promises heightens rather than softens the existential pain of death.

Therefore, it is not a weak faith that feels the pain of death�s enduring power, anymore than grief over one�s sins is a sign of lack of confidence in God�s forgiveness. On the contrary, the victory of Christ on the cross intensifies our sense of death�s wrongful hold on life, and faith in the resurrection of the dead sharpens rather than blunts the loss.


We are not trained to reconcile ourselves to death. We do not make peace with the dark destiny of the grave. As a result, we grieve all the more intensely�and we strike back at death with all we can muster.

Interesting paradox, that faith both makes us feel death more sharply and yet also teaches us to say, “Death, where is thy sting?” Good thoughts to ponder during Lent.

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