Three elderly ladies lived across the road from us. Due to their learning disabilities, they had spent most of their lives in an institution, but changes of government policy meant they had now been housed independently in the community. The joy of their lives, and symbol of their new-found freedom, was their little dog. You’d see them proudly walking Sandy around the neighbourhood, but as the years went by, Sandy got slower and slower. The day arrived when Mary rushed across and asked me a favour of taking her with Sandy to the vets, as he was really poorly. Inevitably, Sandy was beyond the vet’s skills, and there was only one kind solution. It was such a hard decision for Mary, but she bravely stayed with Sandy as the injection took full effect, and I of course bravely supported Mary. Then the moment came when the grieving Mary had to let go, and let me take her home with only Sandy’s collar and lead.
Grief is so hard, whatever the loss. For Joseph, the death of his father Jacob was heartrending (Genesis 50:1-14). They had been separated for so many years; Jacob assuming Joseph’s death, whilst Joseph had no idea if his father had survived. Then there had been the wonderful reunion…But here on earth all good things must come to an end. Jacob had ‘drawn up his feet and breathed his last’, accepting his end. However difficult, Joseph had to accept it too.
So finally, after much weeping, Joseph handed the body of Jacob over to the embalmers. Then, in accordance with his wishes, they took him back to the family plot in Canaan and buried him. They had to let go.
The loss of a loved one is probably the hardest grief. But there are other losses that cause great pain, sometimes almost as difficult. Health, employment, marriage, friendship, even a pet – loss of things like these can cause such a wrenching, it is a form of bereavement. At the end of it all, however painful it is, there is no moving forward until you let go. Joseph left the burial site, and returned to normal life in Egypt. There would always be a sadness, but the healing could only begin once he let go.
I do notice though, that Joseph was accompanied by his family and friends. There was a mutual support for one another. We need to be there for one another. And even if not another soul on earth is aware of your loss, there is One who knows and cares. God knows what it feels like to lose someone dear. What’s more, He can give you the strength to let go and move forward.