Mourning is the same all over the world.

A few months ago, in the mountains of India, I walked into a shepherd’s shelter. There was the silence that comes after death, and the sobs of a woman in grief. The message had come of a death in the family. We mourned with them.

A few days ago, in the valleys of Virginia, I walked into a little farmhouse. There was the silence that comes after death, and we sobbed in grief. Because the message had come of a death in our family. We mourned with them.

The scenery was all different, as were the circumstances and the way the messages came. But the after-death silence, the tears, the breathless prayers… these were universal.

In both places, in both deaths, there’s been a part of me that is tempted not to feel – a part of me that longs to run away from the pain of death. Because as much as I rejoice that a man who was like my uncle is now rejoicing with our Father, I can’t deny the twisting in my stomach… I can’t deny the reality of my hatred toward death. I cannot help but long for a world without mourning, for a time when we will never be absent from those we love. At first I found this a contradiction – this love for heaven and this hate for death. Yet as I pray through these seeming inconsistencies, I find that they aren’t opposing after all. Death is, as we know, a part of the curse. We were created for oneness and life. Our hearts should ache, our hearts should long for the day when death will be conquered once and for all, rejoicing in the meantime that death has lost it’s sting because of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So we mourn for the loss, for the separation, for this awful thing called death, yet we rejoice for the gain, for the oneness, for the final bliss we know as heaven – the full presence of God. We gather around the family, we bring meals, we bring hugs, we bring laughter. Whether in the mountains or the valleys, the children still play outside in the grass and we have that hope that life goes on and soon all our tears will be left behind. In the absence of one we love, one who loved us, we love each other all the more.

And love is the same all over the world.