For me, one of the most touching commentaries on the Charleston shooting came from the man who said, "I'm praying for children who will be approaching Fathers' Day without a father." I believe he was talking about the young pastor who was killed, leaving behind his wife and children.
Our confidence in Christ and His resurrection is a source of great comfort, but that certainly doesn't remove the pains of loss and grief. And people express that grief in different ways. It's important not to judge people who grieve differently than we do, even when the things they do don't resonate with us.
This thought came to mind last week when I visited the Davis memorial plot at the cemetery in Hiawatha, Kansas. John Davis was 75 years old when he lost his wife, Sarah, in 1930. His expression of grief was to spend thousands of dollars on a memorial of their life together, with statues covering each stage of their history. There are statues of them as a young couple, as an older couple, and a statue of Mr. Davis sitting by himself next to his wife's vacant chair.
Mr. Davis didn't die until 1947. The last years of his life were hard ones. He spent alot of time at the cemetery. There's a touching account in Zula Bennington Greene's autobiography (Peggy of the Flint Hills) about the time that she and her husband ran into Davis at the gravesite. He talked about the pain of having to go home without his wife, sitting next to that vacant chair. It was a pain that Peggy could relate to from the loss of two of her four children.
I think of the line from an old hymn: "This day the noise of battle, the next the victor's song." We grieve on this side of eternity, but we look forward to the great reunion on the other side with our loved ones.