Bonhoeffer on Grief

‘There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.’
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer characteristically gives an answer grounded in the concrete, and not in the abstract – pain is real, loss is real, and the void left by a loved one who has passed on is real, and it doesn’t go away. This also shows some of his other theological presuppositions – namely the relational factor that makes his theology (in addition to Barth’s) so powerful and his ethical thought so brilliant – both the authentic and the relationship  are foundational in his thought.

One thought on “Bonhoeffer on Grief

  1. facedownphilosophy July 26, 2012 / 3:08 am

    Your blog is a constant source of good reading. I’m grateful to have read this tonight. I needed it.

    Yours In Contemplation,

    Liked by 1 person

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