06/06/2012 03:50 pm ET Updated Aug 06, 2012

Grief Echoes: A Pastor Reflects on Death and Remembering

When death hits us, we are never prepared. Even when we know the end is near, when we can see the storm on the horizon, when it hits, it still feels like a tsunami. For one thing, most of us don't have a lot of experience losing a deeply beloved one. We tend to have a short list of lives whose loss would be most ultimately devastating. How do you practice for the loss of a husband? Or a parent? Or a child? There is no way to be prepared.

They say that grief echoes. Each new grief takes us back to a grief we have experienced in the past. So when you lose your second parent, you find yourself going right back to losing your first parent. Suddenly, you are thinking of every other loss you have ever been through.

It seems so unfair, that in the midst of a new grief, you would find yourself pulled back in memory to past deaths, but there it is. As a pastor I have learned that this is how it often goes, whether we want it to or not. Grief echoes. Better to know that than to be caught off guard by it.

Better to be on the lookout for that when you see someone else who is grieving in ways that don't make sense to you. Perhaps that person is reeling with the echoes of past grief that you know nothing about. Deal gently with those who grieve.

And when you grieve, deal gently with yourself.

Grief echoes.

For more by Lillian Daniel, click here.

For more on death and dying, click here.