"We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Here are some things I’ve been unaware of recently—lane closures when we’re already running late, changes in the town trash pickup schedule, my child’s hobby of stuffing mulberry leaves into the bathtub drain, a partially-eaten cheeseburger under the backseat. It’s impossible, though, to be unaware of death. It surrounds us in the news, in our social media feeds, in the lives of those we know.
Following Christ doesn’t guarantee a life without suffering. Grief eventually touches us all. When death takes someone from us, we go on living, but normal life is completely altered by the ever-present absence of the one we love. Our hearts naturally cry out in sadness and grief.
The mark of Christian faith, though, is our hope in Christ. He has overcome death. His Resurrection transforms our grief.
In the Incarnation, God came to us in human form, like us in everything except sin. In the Resurrection, Christ took His human body with Him into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. One day, we’ll be there with Him . . . not just spiritually, but in the flesh. Those who have died and gone to be with Christ in Heaven will be reunited with their loved ones, yes, but also with their bodies.
Saint Paul’s public service announcement to the Thessalonians leaves no ambiguity: the bodies of those formerly dead are going to rise, and those who are still alive will be “caught up” to meet Him in the air.
What will this look like? My mental pictures of it range from humorous to terrifying. But we have Saint Paul’s solid assurance: Christ’s victory over death means that death is not the end for us, either. In our mourning, we must never despair. Our separation is only temporary. Those who sleep in Christ will be with Him, and with us, again one day.
Thanks be to God.
This article helps us journey through our grief, informed by our Faith.
Abbey Dupuy is the Assistant Theological Editor for Blessed is She and writes her life as a homeschooling mama of four frequently barefoot children. She muses about imperfect parenting, practicing gratitude, and celebrating the liturgical year with her young family on her blog. In her spare time, she enjoys running, gardening, coffee, and cookbooks, not usually at at the same time. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book, Rise Up and author of our Blessed Conversations: The Virtues study found here. You can find out more about her here.