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Home The Light Articles from 2001 The Sorrow We Cherish–the Grave

The Sorrow We Cherish–the Grave

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The Sorrow We Cherish–the Grave

The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal–every other affliction to forget: but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open–this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude. Where is the mother who would willingly forget the infant that perished like a blossom from her arms, though every recollection is a pang? Where is the child who would willingly forget the most tender parents, though to remember be but to lament? Who, even in the hour of agony, would forget the friend over whom he mourns? Who, even when the tomb is closed upon the remains of her he most loved, and he feels his heart, as it were, crushed in the closing of its portal, would accept consolation that was to be bought by forgetfulness? No! The love which survives the tomb is one of the noblest attributes of the soul! If it has its woes, it has likewise its delights; and when the overwhelming burst of grief is calmed into the gentle tear of recollection; when the sudden anguish and the convulsive agony over the present ruins of all that we most loved, is softened away into pensive meditation on all that it was in the days of its loveliness–who would root out such a sorrow from the heart? Though it may sometimes throw a passing cloud even over the bright hour of gaiety, or spread a deeper sadness over the hour of gloom, yet who would exchange it even for the song of pleasure, or the burst of revelry? No! There is a voice from the tomb sweeter than song! There is a recollection of the dead, to which we turn even from the charms of the living. Oh the grave! the grave! It buries every error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment. From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look down upon the grave even of an enemy, and not feel a compunctious throb that ever he should have warred with the poor handful of earth that lies mouldering before him!

But the grave of those we loved–what a place for meditation! Then it is that we call up in long review the whole history of virtue and gentleness, and the thousand endearments lavished upon us almost unheeded in the daily intercourse of intimacy; then it is that we dwell upon the tenderness, the solemn, awful tenderness of the parting scene–the bed of death, with all its stifled griefs, its noiseless attendance, its mute, watchful assiduities–the last testimonies of expiring love–the feeble, fluttering thrilling, O how thrilling! pressure of the hand–the last fond look of the gazing eye, turning upon us, even from the threshold of existence–the faint, faltering accents, struggling in death to give one more assurance of affection!

Aye, go to the grave of buried love and meditate! There settle the account with thy conscience for every past benefit unrequited–every past endearment unregarded– of that departed one who can never, never, return to be soothed by thy contrition!

If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul, or a furrow to the silvered brow of an affectionate parent–if thou art a husband, and hast ever caused the fond bosom that ventured its whole happiness in thy arms, to doubt one moment of thy kindness or thy truth–if thou art a friend, and hast ever wronged, in thought, or word, or deed, the spirit that generously confided in thee–if thou art a lover, and hast ever given one unmerited pang to that true heart that now lies cold and still beneath thy feet; then be sure that every unkind look, every ungracious word, every ungentle action, will come thronging back upon thy memory, and knocking dolefully at thy soul–then be sure that thou wilt lie down sorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groan, and pour the unavailing tear, more deep, more bitter, because unheard and unavailing.

Then weave thy chaplet of flowers, and strew the bounties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender, yet futile tributes of regret; but take warning by the bitterness of this thy contrite affliction over the dead, and be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living. –from A. Campbell's Christian Baptist, April, 1828



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