(This post was originally published on the Our Words Collaborative site on October 25, 2016)
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
Last Tuesday night I looked through the text messages on my phone and found the ones I was looking for toward the bottom of the list. She hadn’t been able to get on her phone the last week and a half, but I had all of the messages starting from the first part of July. I went to the beginning and read through all of them with tears streaming down my face. The first messages were longer and mostly general conversation. As time went on, the messages got shorter and toward the end were basically emojis, since I think that was most likely easier for her at that point. The significance of how the messages went until the end was not lost on me; it basically symbolized how she declined these last few months until the last week and a half when there was hardly, if any, communication at all.
This last July, my Grandma had been put in hospice care and rapidly declined until she was unresponsive and passed away in the wee early hours last Friday morning. Her funeral was the following Tuesday morning and it all felt so unreal; even though I had visited her several times those last few weeks and I saw the decline. The suffering was heartbreaking to witness and although I knew what was coming, I was unable to prepare myself for the loss. It is an emotion that doesn’t truly come until the person is actually gone. The waves of sorrow and the flooding of memories is almost unbearable at times. It seems the sadness sits just below the surface and one word, picture or story can break down the walls again. It is definitely a journey of incredible heartache and uncontrollable emotion.
Have you lost someone special to you? Have you or are you grieving?
Grief is defined as the keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
While I agree with the definition, I think it almost sounds so simple…and that is not how I feel. I don’t feel simple; I feel all over the place. I go from feeling relief that her pain and suffering is done to feeling guilty for feeling relief to feeling extreme sorrow over the fact that I can’t see her in person or talk to her anymore. I also am amazed at how much it feels like she is ‘all of a sudden’ gone, even though her suffering went on for weeks. I feel mad at others who don’t acknowledge this large event in my life (and hers), because it isn’t one in theirs. I feel the need to tell everyone, but to also tell no one. I feel the need to be alone, but then don’t want to be alone at the same time. I don’t want to cry, but also want to cry and let it all out hoping it will feel better. I start to feel better and then worry that I need to be sad. I don’t want to move on, but I want to move forward at the same time. So while I do agree with the definition given, I am feeling so much more; the ups and downs of grief is overwhelming and hard to overcome. The waves can drown us…if we let them.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
Grief involves a lot of feelings; a ride on a roller coaster of emotion we never bought a ticket for and want to get off of as soon as we are on board. Unfortunately we all will or have experienced grief in our life. I don’t believe God gives us grief in our journey to make us sad or to make our lives hard. The reasons for our grief are good; we loved someone that was a very special part of our lives. They gave us joy and laughter. They added to our life and helped us in many ways. While we will miss them so much; we must know that their time and work here on Earth was done. Ours is not and so we must continue, persevere and carry on with the love and memories that our loved ones gave us. If they had not been a part of our life; if we had not known them, then we may not be experiencing grief, but we also would not have had the joy of their presence in our lives either.
I have two little ones that loved their Gigi very much. One of the hardest things I had to do was to try to explain her death to them. How can I explain something that I as an adult cannot fully grasp? However my six year old has been very matter of fact about it; saying we will see her again someday. One of the last conversations that my Grandma had with my daughter she taught her the fun phrases- ‘See you later alligator!’ and ‘After while crocodile!’. I am not sure my Grandma was thinking of Paisley trying to understand all of what was going on, but knowing her well I think she thought it was a fun way to remember her and also to teach her that she is never really gone, because she lives on in all of us and we will see her again. Despite the sadness over her passing, these words and remembering the memory of this ‘lesson’ between the two of them does bring a smile through my tears.
How do I overcome this sadness? Will it ever go away?
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
I am on the grief journey; one I don’t think ever quite goes away (but I do believe gets easier with time) so I do not have a list of what to do in order to feel better or the answer to healing after death. I really and truly think it is a process unique to each individual. I do know that God is there; He is here to lean on and to give hope. He is the light in the darkness and He will give you peace. Pray to Him; cry out to Him and He will bring you comfort. It will continue to be an up and down road, but you do not have to ride the roller coaster alone. The wounds will heal, and while there will always be a scar; you will find over time there will be more smiles than tears and more joy than sadness. Look for signs your loved ones and God send you; they are everywhere…the light in the sky, a special song or note or a butterfly floating by when you least expect it that makes you instantly think of your person. Cherish your moments and share their story; keep them alive in your heart and know that they are in a glorious place of everlasting love and as my little girl reminds me, “We will see her again Mommy!” So very true and a great reminder to us all; that while we aren’t able to see them now and we miss them very much, it can give us comfort to remember that we will see our dear loved ones again someday.
So I say, “See you later Grandma…” and I can almost hear her say “After while bestest girl…”
Thank you so much for the gift of loved ones in our lives. We know you know how much they mean to us and how significant of a role they all play in who we are and what we do in our lives and in influencing others as well. We understand that everyone is here on Earth for a short amount of time and then are called Home to You, Lord. Thank you for the gift of our deceased loved ones and the role they played in our lives as well. Please help us to move forward with You by our side. Comfort and heal us in our grieving journey so eventually we can experience more joy than sadness and more smiles than tears. Help us remember the memories fondly and to carry on his/her legacy in our hearts and lives. Also help us carry out our callings fully here on this Earth until we are also called Home, where we can enjoy eternity with our loved ones once again.
In Jesus’ name, Amen