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My Dear Friend:
NEW and overwhelming experience has been thrust upon you. A loved one, whose life was linked to your very soul by ties more sacred and wonderful than any human language or symbol can express, and who walked with you in a sweet companionship, which strengthened, enriched and glorified all your existence, has listened to the call of the silent messenger and passed from your sight, leaving your heart more lonely and desolate than you had ever dared to think possible. Those dear eyes into which you once looked, now give no response to the eager questionings of your soul, and the hand which once clasped yours in tenderest love, now returns no answering pressure.
Some strong one who stood by your side a noble protector, some gentle one, whose sweetness and tender love illumined the whole world and made it beautiful, some precious little one whose sweet baby fingers twined and wove themselves into the sacred inner cords of your heart, in a way which you once thought impossible, or it may be some aged one whose noble life of service has ever been a bulwark to the best that is within you, is with you now no more as in the days gone by. With whatever there is of the past, which you think you would change were you to live it over again, think how wonderfully precious will be its memory now for all the years to come. Here you have a treasure, of which nothing can ever rob you so long as your own life shall last.
My friend, as one who has experienced and borne the burden of a great sorrow like this one which well nigh crushes you, permit me to say this in loving sympathy with you in your bereavement: Do not think of the loved one as dead. There is no death: "Christ hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light."
We change the house in which we live, the clothes which we wear, the country in which we reside, but we remain the same, save to go on to new and higher things in life and experience. This dear one for whom your aching heart now yearns so hungrily has only changed houses, passed from the body which could be afflicted with disease and dissolution, to the glorious body, which is to be free forever from these pains, ailments and imperfections. The fetters of the soul have been broken and thrown aside,
and the prison doors flung wide open, that is all. Nothing else has changed, could have changed, only to get a better vision and possess a less hampered and circumscribed existence. The real life is going on, under sunnier skies, and amid more propitious conditions, than ever could have been possible here. Our own love has not grown cold, but has the rather been deepened and intensified. So it is we must believe with the love of the dear one gone now from earthly sight, for you and for the other dear friends. The interest too, which this departed one had in you and in all those things which were mutually dear to you both, has not necessarily passed away forever. Though some of the things which once worried and perplexed, as well as some things which were held to be of value, are doubtless viewed in a different light, still your loved one is no more lost out of your life, and out of the things which worthily claimed your mutual attention and love, than Christ was lost from the lives and activities of the world which he came to enlighten, when he passed from the physical sight of those who loved and followed him.
And then, too, let not the tears of your sorrow blind your eyes to the great truth that this precious soul of your devotion is not imprisoned in the tomb, to slumber through the long ages of the future, but is "alive with God, forevermore." Our loved ones are not far from us. They are with God, and God is here. They dwell not in some far off sphere, some country resplendent but remote, where they have lost all love and care and interest for those who still toil here in the old ways, but "ever near us tho' unseen, their dear immortal spirits tread."
Let us then not be carried away wholly with our great grief. Think how wonderful God is, how much heavenly love and infinite beauty there must be in the nature of the One able to create souls so beautiful and possessed of so many noble qualities, as you knew in the one who has just been crowned with the supreme experience of this earthly existence. How precious is the thought that He permitted you to have this dear companionship, even for a little while.
Whatever that heaven is to which the friends go when they pass from the ways of this mortal life, from this time on it will ever seem to you nearer and dearer, because of the loved ones there-how the dread which once hung over us, relative to our entering it, disappears, as we remember that this one so greatly loved has gone along that way just ahead of us.