According to the Gospel of Luke, on at least two occasions Christ Jesus tenderly said to those who were grieving, “Weep not.” First, to a mother who had lost her only son, then later to a ruler of a synagogue and his family and friends who were crying because his young daughter had just passed on (see chaps. 7 and 8).
Jesus could speak with such gentle authority because, to his spiritual sense, the young man and the girl were not dead but living. This was the reality, the truth of being unseen by the human senses, for God forever preserves the life of each one of His children.
Jesus affirms, “He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him” (Luke 20:38). Jesus was aware that a child of God lives in God, is inseparable from God, who is eternal Life. To both the young man and the little girl, he commanded: “Arise.” In other words, awake from the dream of life in matter to the understanding of life in Spirit—the only Life. Obeying Jesus’ instruction, they were immediately made whole and arose to a new experience. Tears of parents and friends were replaced with joy and gratitude, and God was glorified.
How can these accounts, which happened two thousand years ago, help us today? They can be a great encouragement depending on the way we perceive them. If we look at them through the lens of human vision, which sees only the things that are seen physically, they are miracles. But if viewed through the lens of spiritual perception—which testifies to the things of Spirit, unseen with the eye—these actions illustrate that death is “the last enemy” (I Corinthians 15:26), and that it can be overcome. They are demonstrations of the eternal law of Life, the evidence that God, who is the only Life, can never cause death. God, who is infinite Life, can only know Life.
Christ Jesus’ destruction of sickness and death illustrated the fact that immortal Life is always reflected by man. Eternal Life is not limited to the hereafter but is ever present and can be progressively demonstrated. As the Apostle Paul explains, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). So eternal life is given by God to each one of us, now and always.
The realization that God gives immortal life, without beginning or end, reveals the delusion of death. This understanding opens the way to healing sin and disease, and to overcoming death. While we may not yet have reached the level of understanding and demonstration of eternal life that Jesus did, it is encouraging to know that even the healing of sorrow after the passing of a dear one is an important step in our own inevitable victory over death.
After hearing the sad news of John the Baptist’s violent death, Jesus sought to go to a deserted or wilderness place, where he would often commune with God (see Matthew 14:1–14). We read in Matthew that a huge crowd soon caught up with him there, and moved with compassion, he healed the sick among them, showing that he felt uplifted and strengthened rather than defeated.
When mourning a friend or a loved one, we, too, should seek that “wilderness” place where we are alone with God. The spiritual definition of wilderness given by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, says, in part, “the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence” (p. 597). It is in that place, in communion with our Father-Mother, where we lose a sense of life as being in matter, and we begin to understand spiritual existence; we see that the Life divine, the only Life, cannot die, and that man as God’s reflection is always alive and perfect, and so he cannot even be ill.
As we follow Jesus’ example and see the spiritual nature of a departed friend, we are led to understand that he or she lives on and now realizes the fallacy of death. Upon hearing of the passing of her sister-in-law Mary, the last member of her family, Mary Baker Eddy commented to one of her students: “Sister Mary would never believe that death is not a reality. I could not make her think my way. Now she knows she has not died. She has realized Life” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Vol. II, p. 312).
After my dear husband passed on, I so deeply felt the divine, tender comfort promised throughout the Bible. I knew that even if I could not see my husband anymore, we were both living in infinite Love, where there is no end, no parting, but a continuous unfolding of good. This message sent by a dear friend, showing the continuity of life, was so helpful: “I have just heard the news about your dear husband changing his address. . . .”
Additionally, the following comforting message from Mary Baker Eddy to a student whose husband had just passed on was a constant support: “Your dear husband has not passed away from you in spirit; he never died, only to your sense; he lives and loves and is immortal. Let this comfort you dear one, and you will find rest in banishing the sense of death, in cherishing the sense of life and not death. Your dear husband is as truly living to-day as he ever lived, and you can find rest and peace in this true sense of Life” (Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, Amplified Edition, pp. 278–279).
I saw the necessity of faithfully following this counsel in the Manual of The Mother Church: “Gratitude and love should abide in every heart each day of all the years” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 60). We cannot be sad and grateful at the same time, and it is important to think of a departed loved one with a sense of gratitude rather than of loss. My gratitude to God for His constant, universal loving care and for my husband’s beautiful qualities stopped the mesmerism of sorrow. Being grateful also kept me from giving life to the suggestions of lack and loneliness and opened my eyes to all the good that is already established for each child of God. Love heals sorrow.
After the passing of a loved one, we might desire to be taken care of. But just the opposite is needed. By loving and answering the needs of others, we forget ourselves, and thus we are comforted and blessed. In First John, we find confirmation of the blessings of loving unselfishly: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (3:14).
As we progress in our understanding of God and in our demonstration of Christian life, the eternity of Life will become clearer. We cannot weep anymore, and we are at peace.