When we lose a dear friend, someone we have loved deeply, we are left with a grief that can paralyse us emotionally for a long time. People we love become part of us. Our thinking, feeling and acting are co-determined by them: Our fathers, our mothers, our husbands, our wives, our lovers, our children, our friends ... they are all living in our hearts. When they die a part of us has to die too. That is what grief is about: It is that slow and painful departure of someone who has become an intimate part of us. When Christmas, the new year, a birthday or anniversary comes, we feel deeply the absence of our beloved companion. We sometimes have to live at least a whole year before our hearts have fully said good-bye and the pain of our grief recedes. But as we let go of them they become part of our "members" and as we "re-member" them, they become our guides on our spiritual journey.
These Bible passages on friendship flesh things out even more for me, and undergird what Nouwen says:
Friends love through all kinds of weather,Again, we rejoice and we weep at losing Claire's dear, earnest friendship. Know that this loss will not fade quickly -- and that is a good thing. It shows us that her impact was full and far-reaching. We learned about what it means to be a friend from her. As the wounds settle a bit, we can reach out to others more, and live on with integrity and compassion. God will use this time to shape us, if we receive it.
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. (Proverbs 17:17)
Friends come and friends go,
but a true friend sticks by you like family. (Proverbs 18:24)
By yourself you're unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)