Between March 17 and 25, 1863, FR wrote several letters to her friend A. B. Wood, all of which focused on the death of friends and loved ones. The letters give a good view of how evangelical Christians view death. Here are a few excerpts:
"Think of the harmonies of heaven, which I believe our friend is hearing how, as the sound of a waterfall always there, always ready when the attention is called to it, accompanying the glorious vision and exquisite new words,--while our Lord in person will be there."
"O do not doubt it, do not think of her in the dark grave, the temporary hiding-place of the dissolving body, but there beyond that blue sky and brightening sunlight of spring."
"Death came by sin, and sadly we all feel it, not the sin of the individual but of the fallen race,--the redeemed race, of whom our blessed Lord took flesh, the flesh in and by which to suffer; wonderful mystery! but magnificent in its awfulness to us."
"How sweet are His [Christ's] recorded words to us! How increasingly sweet will be those we have yet to hear through a happy eternity; and your dear friend is now hearing them!"
"In her last illness she said with wonderful earnestness, 'Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly,' and, at that moment she was with Him. She seemed to pass through the gate of death, but it was life to her."
"They see Him as He is, oh far more glorious than our brightest imaginings; they will hear Him speak, and say higher and more glorious things than our weak earthly natures could endure or comprehend. To know more of Him will be our employment, we shall need no others; to 'see Him as He is' will sufficiently employ all our faculties."
March 6th, 1862
I have been low all day, feeling loss of memory and dulness of brain—but look at the weather! I hope it is only that.
There's nothing new about mood being affected by weather. Frances Rolleston felt it, as attested to by this letter. But her next line showed that her mood did not depend on the weather:
I look at my "3 Parts" with thankfulness—done so far.
She referred here to her book, Mazzaroth: the Constellations, which after many years of preparation was ready for publication. Thankfulness was her attitude. Thankfulness does not depend on weather or mood. It is a choice. FR made it a continual choice and a permanent attitude.
While in Malvern, just before her relocation to Keswick, FR made the acquaintance of two sisters, Bessie and Caroline Dent. They found their interests so similar and the sisters were so taken with FR's theory of the constellations, that they were instant close friends. These interests included poetry, painting, and the Scriptures.
Since FR was older than they, the sisters began to call her "Aunt," and she was delighted by this new relationship. So many of her friends had already died that at times she felt bereft.
The women sent their sketches, paintings and poetry to one another, sometimes just to share it and sometimes seeking advice. This excerpt from a letter demonstrates their mutual affection.
To the Misses Dent. Keswick, January 17th, 1849.
I think I ought to write an epitaph "on two fair sisters smothered in sonnets," by a cruel aunt, as bad as an uncle, vide Babes in the Wood—for lo! here are more that would be written, it's no use resisting, when the thought has rolled in my brain the destined time, out it will come. And of most of these the first idea was spoken to you, on the scenery viewed together.
November 22, 1963 the world grieved over the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy; the Christian world grieved over the death of Clive Staples Lewis.
November 22, 1863 the United States was in the deadly grip of the Civil War. In England, Frances Rolleston was finally shrugging off serious sickness.
What comfort was there for those grieving JFK's death? Could it be counted as anything other than a tragedy by all who loved him?
What comfort was there for those grieving CS Lewis's death? They had the assurance of enjoying eternity with him. "Therefore comfort one another with these words," Paul the Apostle wrote, following his description of the Lord's return.
Where did FR turn for comfort in her sickness?
She wrote to a friend, "I am daily better, in spite of the pouring rain all day, and stormy wind all night, which when I was worse I knew nothing of; nor, indeed, of any thing but the comforts of the Word of God, hourly sought in your most valuable large-print Testament,—do you remember it? Little did I think how valuable it would be on a bed of sickness."
For those like FR who are assured of the state of their souls, death or its near approach heightens awareness of the One who walks through the valley with them, and comforts those left behind.