Learning the Blessing of Mourning

Wow, where do I start?  This month has been one of the most roller-coaster months I have ever experienced.  In the course of one month, we have started school for the year, celebrated family birthdays(including my 30th!), traveled to Seattle twice, made some major life decisions (more on this later), received some surprising family news (more on this later, too), started a college course, celebrated the arrival of my newest nephew (welcome, baby Owen!), and lastly, received the shattering news of my uncle’s murder.

For those of you who don’t know me on Facebook, here’s the quick recap: on Thursday evening (the 27th), there was a shooting in Minneapolis.  A disgruntled ex-employee went on a vengeful shooting spree at his former office, killing 4 people plus himself.  My uncle was an innocent bystander – the UPS delivery guy dropping off a package at the wrong time.

My Uncle Keith

My uncle, Keith Basinski, was an amazing person.  Everyone loved him.  He radiated happiness and joy.  He was genuine and giving.  I remember his selfless hospitality – we always stayed at his house when we visited Minneapolis and he was always willing to do whatever to help us feel comfortable and welcome.  Mark said that he holds a special place in his heart as well – so full of joy and kindness.  Learning of his death was quite a blow. 

Death is hard to process by itself, but I’ve learned this week that murder is a different story altogether.  It’s so dark, so evil. 

I’ve been working through my grief these last few days.  My uncle was a believer, so I have the comfort of knowing his destiny and that he is with the Father right now.  But it is still hard to have someone snatched from life so quickly, so cruelly.

Mark has been reading a book about the Beatitudes, and he suggested the next chapter, which was on mourning.  So I read it this morning in my quiet time, and it really ministered to me, so I wanted to pass along some of the most poignant passages here.

“Mourning means they have given up their self-delusions about control, power and protection.  They know that life is fragile, and that they are not in charge.”

“Only when life jolts us do we see the real picture of our existence, that we depend on God’s graciousness for every breath.  Mourning brings about the acute awareness of powerlessness – an essential ingredient in spiritual growth.”

“Yeshua looked out on the brokenhearted in the crowd and saw that some were ready, posed to accept the incredible announcement about to be theirs.  they were ready because they were the blessed ones.  God could reach them, now, in the moment of their raw openness.”

“Yeshua knows that this comfort has two critical elements.  First, it is comfort found only by those who are at this moment open because of their agony.  And secondly, it is a promise that reaches beyond the immediate.”

“It is the guarantee that no matter what crisis comes upon us, God is here.  God is in control.  Our lives are not adrift on a stormy sea of emotional trauma.  The Holy Spirit will stand as our Advocate when we fall.  He will intercede.  All of His unfathomable power, care and love will be ours because God hears our cry.”

“So grief comes upon us, not as a judgment or a punishment but as the single most clarifying moment of life – the moment that I see that my life is not my own, that it is not even mine to keep.  At that moment, when I know my limits most intimately, I am ready to hear God’s message – comfort is upon me.”

My prayer in all this is that through grief, many people who were blessed by my Uncle Keith’s life will be even more blessed through his death.  May they find the One who was the source of my uncle’s joy, the foundation of his giving and generous life.

“Oh, so happy are those who at this moment are broken over life’s finality because the day is upon them when God’s gracious love is at hand and they have the promise that death is defeated.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

A few links honoring my uncle, Keith Basinski:





* All quotes except for Scripture are taken from “The Lucky Life – The Backwards Beatitudes,” by Skip Moen, D.Phil.

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