Why Losing a Loved One Doesn’t Feel Real

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Today I have an article at The Gospel Coalition reflecting on my grief after the passing of my former student and friend, John Powell.

I was awakened Sunday by a telephone call from a friend telling me news I never expected to hear: that my friend and former student had been killed, run over by an 18-wheeler while helping stranded motorists beside a highway. Before grief hit incredulity. I kept saying “What?” And in the hours since, I cry for a few minutes and then think, Wait? Did this really happen? It doesn’t seem real. I keep wondering, at least for a split second, whether I just misunderstood the news—that my friend is preparing, as he would any other Sunday morning, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, that all of this is just some sort of mistake.

It seems to me that the loss of those we love doesn’t feel real, first of all, because it shouldn’t be. As much as we tell ourselves that death is just a part of life, that human beings are just part of the same cycle as that of the rest of the earth, it just doesn’t ring true to us, at least not in the moments when we encounter it with our psyches instead of our theories. Losing a person is more than just the ever-changing whirl of our environment. And loving a person seems to be something that should be permanent. A person seems to be more than just a type of a generic whole. Each person seems to be unique and irreplaceable—a story that may rhyme in the lives of others but can never be retold in the same way.

Read the full story here.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.