Last week, when I came home from a team meeting, I received a phone call from my parents telling me that my friend Daniel had passed away. The shock to hear that my 20 year old friend’s life was taken so suddenly is something I still have not processed through deeply. How does one even begin to grieve? How does one process grief thousands of miles away? As much as my heart broke, my heart felt even more shattered knowing how far away I am from my friends who are grieving as well. I found myself scrolling through social media for the next several days, reading every post I could find about Daniel and how had impacted the lives of those around him. I sought console in knowing I am not alone in my grief, even if no one in proximity to me knows who he was.
In every post I read and picture I saw, I saw Jesus. Daniel was a young man who was quick to love and quick to laugh. He worked hard and never complained. He loved those around him and always chose to put them first. He lived life deeply and fully yet was always a listening ear to the hearts of others. Father, I do not understand your will nor your plan. I do not understand your timing nor your reasoning. As with every person who passes away, especially at such a young age, we always sit and wonder why he was taken away from us.
Yet, despite this hurt, this is the biggest blessing You could have given Daniel. Daniel is no longer in pain. He is no longer in his sinful body. Instead, he is standing in Your presence, worshiping You, fully free from the bondage of sin. He sees Your nail-scarred hands as he kneels before Your thrown. My heart is not close to truly rejoicing in this blessing now, but it sure will be when the two of us get to praise you together once more. I can only imagine the awe and reverence Daniel must be feeling right now as he sees your lovely face.
I am still processing the hurt of this loss. I don’t foresee myself finishing the grieving process anytime soon. So far, the sadness has come in group or public setting, so I have tried to suppress my tears, not wanting to cry in a Starbucks or in a concert. Writing this blog has definitely allowed me the time and space to finally cry in the comforts of my own apartment. This post in Daniel’s honor is the very least I can do for him. I am trying to not sit in the "what if's" and remain in the hypothetical, but man do I wish I could see him one more time. Daniel, my heart hurts and misses you deeply, but I cannot wait to see you again!
To Future Goers: When you go overseas, remember that culture shock is hard. It is a challenge, and you will feel isolated. As I encourage you to fight the loneliness that will come, fight it even harder if you lose a loved one. We are never meant to be alone, especially in grief. It is okay to hurt. It is okay to mourn. It is okay to cry. No one expects you to be okay all the time no matter what. If you try to mask the pain, people will not trust you. Allow others the blessing of coming along side you in the highs and lows of life. It is worth it. I promise.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-5