"The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
This same time last month I sat by the bedside of my Daddy who was living his last week on this earth. I held his hand, talked quietly with him, prayed for him, sang to him, and assured him of my love for him. He told me he was ready to meet God but he didn't want to leave his family. Choking back a whirl wind of emotions, I assured him that we would be okay. I explained that God was big enough to take care of him in heaven as well as those of us left on earth. He smiled and nodded his head in agreement, as he squeezed my hand a little tighter.
As the week passed, he became weaker and weaker. His brain was telling his body not to function. Even though he was ready to go, he fought. On October 30, his fight ended and he left his shell on earth while his spirit was united with his Maker.
My heart ached with a pain I can not describe. It was like a part of my own existence had left. The man who helped bring me into the world, the man who shared my DNA, the man that raised me was gone. As soon as he took his last breath, I felt it deep within my spirit. Time stood still as I was simultaneously hurt, yet relieved he was no longer suffering.
As the holidays approach, specifically Christmas, my grief feels like a tangled and jumbled ball of Christmas lights. Lights that once wrapped around the tree of life shining brightly are now dim, cloudy and look more like a ball of yarn than anything else.
When a loved one is no longer with us, we are left to untangle the mess we find ourselves in the middle of. Some moments I think about the sorrow I felt in my heart while he was alive as he struggled to feed himself. I picture my Momma feeding him like a mother feeds a small child. My heart hurts thinking about how a once strong man was now wheelchair bound. I think about the times he struggled over and over to try and help us understand what he was saying. I wanted to understand him. I continued to ask him "Daddy, what are you saying?" I would guess off the wall things sometimes, and we would both laugh out loud.
As his physical body deteriorated, his heart seemed to grow and fill with more and more love every day--love for God, love for family, and love for others.
A good memory is almost always followed up with a bad memory--the memory of watching him struggle to breath, the memory of his last moments, the memory of his lifeless body as I held his hand to the end, the pain that overcame my heart when he was gone. Usually, the painful memories visit me at night when all is quiet and still. I pray all I know to pray, "God, help me. God, help me." I sometimes repeat those three words until I finally drift off to sleep.
Most people living with grief will tell us that it never gets better. We merely learn to adjust and move forward in a life that is forever changed. We begin to untangle the lights one by one, day by day. There is no timeline for grief. Every person and loss is different. It takes as long as it takes. With every day that passes, we reach into the bundle of emotions and free a little more of the tangled web.
We learn the importance of a hug and the words I love you.
We learn that the world continues to spin not taking note of our despair. Things that once seemed so important seem insignificant. Our own deaths seem more real. One day we are smiling and feeling back to "normal" when out of nowhere, like a thief in the night, an ocean of sadness strikes from behind knocking our feet out from under us.
Our brains fire differently. We sometimes walk in a silent fog, feeling deeply one minute and numb the next. Slowly but surely, we get up. The Lord is faithful to gird us up in his strength. His mercies are brand new every day. He gives us others to hold us by the arms as we stumble down our new path. But we keep moving. We keep unraveling until we are finally ready to plug back in to life...at least that is my hope as I continue to work through my mess.
If you have lost a loved one, I want to pray with you as the holidays approach.
Father, I thank you for your faithfulness. I thank you that we don't have to face loss alone. I thank you that you are with us every moment of every day. I pray that each person reading this feels your Holy Spirit giving them supernatural peace and comfort. I pray that you help us all to remember the good times we had with our loved ones. I pray that you protect our hearts from the pain. Help us to be a light to those we are around. Wrap your arms around us. We need you. Help us. In Jesus' name. Amen.
P.S. I'm not an expert on grief, but it is my heart's desire that this helps someone to know they are not alone.