I just read an interesting book called Grief's Untold Stories, by D.L. Starkey. I have written on my personal journey of grief after the death of my father, but I have not tried to tackle the stories of others. Starkey does just that. He is a hospice chaplain (among many other things), and his book recounts nine particular deaths that occurred in the course of his ministry.
Lest this sound depressing, it's not. Each story was unique in the way in which the silver lining of hope finds a way through the cloud of grief.
- A chess playing cancer patient whose terminal illness was "the best thing that ever happened to me."
- An eight-year-old leukemia patient who was so looking forward to heaven that her last words were, "I can't wait!"
- Tex, who died on the operating table, but lived to say, "I''ll never be afraid to die again."
- Jennifer, whose mother was comforted after her death when she found a school assignment in which Jennifer had drawn Heaven in response to the prompt, "Where do you want to live when you grow up?"
- Gus, who at age ninety-two asked God to take him home, and whose request was dramatically granted.
In some ways, it was hard to read. The book does not minimize the impact of death. On the other hand, when I was finished, I felt oddly at peace. It was a great reminder that if I allow the stories of others to fill in the gaps in my experience, I can learn more about the ways in which the God I serve reveals Himself to the world.