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Making Spiritual Sense: On Death and Dying

C.S. Lewis’s book The Last Battle says this of the main character’s entrance into eternity, “All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now, at last, they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”[1]  

Lewis reminds us that when our loved one has gone before us, they are now living into chapter one of their great story. It is hopeful, encouraging, and gives peace as we wrestle with what’s next for them. But what about us? How do we grieve the longings and losses that have come with their absence?

I would like to share some insights that have helped me navigate grief by using the analogy of seasons – Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. As you read the insights from each season, pause, and reflect on the questions provided. Let the questions be an opportunity to note what season of grief you may be experiencing. And let the questions as applicable be an opportunity as conversation starters with your loved ones. And always be slow to respond and quick to listen.


Fall-like grief is when we first get the news that our loved one is nearing the veil of heaven’s welcome. Immediately summer joy fades, and fall prepares our souls for the coming winter by reminding us that what we have known and enjoyed is now changing without our control.

Here, in our Fall-like grief, we must ask questions, “With the time we have, what shall we enjoy together?” and “What is important for our loved one to tell us about the fears, challenges, and hopes in this season?”

Here, Fall-like grief shapes us to pay attention to the gift of presence, the strength and rest to care well, and the courage to face the winter.


We enter winter grief when the one we love is gone.

Winter grief has additional questions that sometimes emerge, “Why didn’t we have more time?”, “Did I do everything I could?”, “Who am I without them?” and “Where are you, God?”

Winter grief is when we most need the gift of community, presence, empathy, and possibly less sage advice to all our questions. Winter grief may be the hardest because the days and nights seem long. Winter grief feels like our final season, but we should not rush to get through it.

Winter is when we are confronted with two realities – the peace eternity now brings for our loved ones and the sorrow while we live on the title page of our loss without them. In the winter and all seasons, He comforts us with the hope of our loved ones/friends’ beautiful new eternal chapter but sees you in the pain of your title page of grief. He is a both/and God, not an either/or God in our grief.


But spring does come and can be a place of allowing for new hope in our life. And when we enter Spring-like grief, we begin to see more clearly, breathe more deeply, and emotionally/relationally unthaw from our immediate winter’s loss. 

Spring grief is when we begin to ask the questions, “What is next?” and “Where is my hope?” 

Spring is the season representing new life; however, it is not without a remembered life. Grief in the springtime never forgets the one we love, but we begin to allow hope to enter what is ahead of us. Spring Grief remembers the ones we loved and what they planted into our lives and less and less on how they left our lives. And from this place, grief begins to turn to joy, which is summer. Summer may be far from this moment of our losses and longings. But God reminds us that sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).


Summer-like grief is remembering our loved ones without the winter pain. Instead, we learn to enjoy those who are still with us and how to live a life honoring the best practices of the loved one we lost.

Summer grief asks a new question, “How can I be grateful for what/who I have and what I have learned?” and “What part of my loved one’s legacy is best lived out and shared?” And before we forget the joys of the many summer-like experiences, “What fond memory do we hold dear in our heart never to let go?”  

I have pastored for 30 years and done countless memorials for strangers and loved ones, and the one constant has been grief. And the closer the person has been to me, the longer I have personally dwelled in each season of grief, the overlap of them asking myself each of the questions I mentioned. However, I am consistently sustained in each season and all the questions they bring, knowing that Jesus reveals Himself uniquely as a comforter in my grief and sorrow.

And as I have slowly learned, grief is a gift that shapes me so that I can journey with others as they navigate their seasons of grief.

So, may others see the working of God in our seasons displayed on our cover and title page.  A cover and title page that have been stained with the tears of our grief, yet, at the same time, showing a God who is present to collect every tear we have (Psalm 56:8). And maybe where our seasons of grief push us to exclude, may the gift of his comfort in them press us to nearer to Him and others.

[1] Lewis, C.S.. The Last Battle, Dreamscape Media, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central, 85.

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