Before we go, I reminded our sons, one never knows how another will respond to grief. Emotions run high and fast and turn on a dime with so much thinking and wondering and praying.
I’ve been anticipating this moment. I pray silently to the Lord that He will put into my mouth what I should say and remove every other word from my reach.
Our sons are older and savvy to life ending. Maybe too savvy. They were there when Verdie died. They attended Great Oma’s funeral, then Grandpa’s, and Great Grammy’s, and Uncle Leo’s. Our boys helped bury four dogs, two goldfish, one hamster, and dozens of chickens. Death and grief are not strangers.
At 19, I went to a funeral service for the first time. I remember how desperately I didn’t want to go.
Fortunately, our sons have today what I didn’t have then: a saving knowledge of Jesus. They understand death as the body giving up and the spirit living on in glory with the Lord. I’m grateful they have that Hope inside them. I’m grateful they know their parents are not afraid of death because Jesus conquered the grave.
Then there’s my mom. She cries and grieves over the death of people she hardly knew because she doesn’t see death as we do: absent from the body but forever with the Lord. She has no Hope. She’s fearful. We long for leaving here to join so many friends and family in a place that’s too beautiful for words. But, Mom clings to life here.
The saddest thing is watching my mom, at 80 years old, stand defiantly shaking her fist at God; insisting on her own will. That’s the saddest thing.
I haven’t any doubt about what happens to believers when their bodies yield to God’s greater plan of mercy and grace as He lifts them into heaven where there’s no sadness, no sickness, no tears. Only Love.
The tricky part for those of us left behind (temporarily) is getting along without that person. We miss them. We want to talk to them. We want to celebrate birthdays and holidays with them. And we envy them for being in glory with the Lord.
Back in ICU, the Lead Nurse, Jim, comes in to tell us that the doctor will be in in the morning. “It’s Father’s Day, so he’s home. You know…” (Yes. We know.) But, he’s clear in that he doesn’t know “which road we’re on” and everyone should come in to speak with the doctor in the morning.
My husband heard the unspoken message more clearly than the rest of us. And later that night, when his dad was sure his mother would “pull through,” he had to say what a long and hard battle his mother fought, but none of us live forever.
By nine that morning, the doctor invited us to join him in the private waiting room. His words were clear and bathed in compassion. If we’re in agreement, it’s time to move from curative care to comfort care. Praise God he’d brought us all the same place of peace and understanding. We (I pray in my heart) agreed peace and comfort were best for my mother-in-law. Let her rest. Let her hear from Jesus so she can grab His hand when He comes to leads her home. But, not yet. Grandpa needs a little time to consider the words he heard.
At 2:26 in the morning, Grandpa wakes my husband to tell him he can’t sleep. He’s going to the hospital. He wants everyone else to stay home. Of course. Thankfully, prayers have no bounds. Ours will reach into the ICU and up to God’s ears regardless of where we stay.
Grandma is placed on comfort care. We pray and wait for her Savior to come for her.
Waiting is hard. Let me tell you. But, knowing my father-in-law–a doer by nature, I supposed getting his chores done for him would bless him most right now. I remembered he commented that his tufted Fescue needed “a haircut” and he hadn’t been able to vacuum or dust in several days. These things were on his mind, so as he sat at the bedside of his bride of 56 years we vacuumed, dusted, washed dried, and snipped away the hours while we waited in his mountain house. Seeing a weedless garden path and freshly laundered bedding lifted his spirit from a looming depression, he later told us.
God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways
I’ve had a couple of weeks now to reflect on God’s hand as He worked in all our lives recently. (This post tells more of the story.) A few points stood out that I thought might be helpful to you if you find yourself grieving or coming alongside someone who’s lost a loved one. I’ve written a few notes below that might be helpful to you:
God Never Changes
Coming alongside anyone who’s facing loss is never easy, and it’s never the same. Of the many people we’ve lost from our earthly lives, no two experiences have been the same. But, I’ve found that God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow He’ll still be who He says He Is. He’s the God of comfort, the God of Peace.
Listening Without Speaking Works
The less said, the better. Maybe it’s me, but I find listening works better than talking. A grieving person, in my experience, has many thoughts running through their mind. Adding more words doesn’t help them hear or understand. They might need to talk or think out loud. Let them. It’s okay.
Quiet Service Screams “LOVE”
You’ve heard it said that it’s the little things in life that have a big impact. It’s true. Buying groceries, taking care of pets, cleaning up the house, watering the garden, and doing any simple act of kindness helps lift the grieving person’s spirit.
It’s not always bad that a person wants to be alone right after losing a spouse or family member. Offering space and time to think can go a long way. They’ve been through a great deal. Give them space to sort things out.
Trusting God in all things is the best tip I have for you. Life is short, dangerous, and uncertain, as my husband sometimes says. Trust God to lead you and others the right way. It’s the best any of us can do.
If you need prayer today, please email me privately here.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it.