"How long will the pain last?"
"All the rest of your life," I had to answer truthfully.
We never quite forget. No matter how many years pass, we remember. The loss of a loved one is like a major operation; part of us is removed, and we have a scar for the rest of our lives.

This does not mean that the pain continues at the same intensity. There is a short while, at first, when we hardly believe it; it's rather like when we have cut our hand we see the blood flowing, but the pain as not set in yet. So, when we are bereaved, there is a short while before the pain hits us. But when it does, it is massive in its effect. Grief is shattering.

Then the wound begins to heal. It is like going through a dark tunnel. Occassionally we glimpse a bit of light up ahead, then lose sight of it awhile, then see it again, and one day we emerge into the light. We are able to laugh, to care, to live. The wound is healed, so to speak, the stitches are taken out, and we are whole again. But, not quite, the scar is still there, and the scar tissue too.

As the years go by, we manage. There are things to do, people to care for, tasks that call for full attention. But the pain is still there, not too far below the surface. We still see a face that looks familar, hear a voice that has echoes, see a photograph in someone's album, see a landscape that once we saw together, and it is as though the knife were in the wound again. But not so painfully. And mixed with joy, too. Because remembering a happy time is not all sorrow, it brings back happiness with it.

As a matter of fact, we even seek such moments of bittersweet remembrance. We have our religious memories, services and our memorial days, and our visits to the cemetery. And, though these bring back the pain, they bring back memories of joy as well.

Ho long will the pain last?
All the rest of your life. But the thing to remember is that not only the pain will last, but the blessed memories as well. Tears are the proof of life. The more love, the more tears. If this be true, then how could we ever ask that the pain cease altogether. For then the memory of love would go with it. The pain of grief is the price we pay for love.