Monday, September 30, 2013

Living with Grief

Having lived with the "unwelcome house guest" of grief for going on 15 months now, I have the following observations:

  • This process is taking longer than I expected.  While I barely weep like I did originally, I seem to have developed a bit of a scar in my heart.  Sometimes I feel disconnected and frustrated with people.  I still feel disconnected from God most of the time, yet I pray anyway because I know that the "Lord is near" me in this grief (even though I don't feel him).  I'd always heard that grief is a one year thing and then I'd be better.  That is "bunk."
  • The Psalms mean more to me.  To tell you the truth, I was more of a Proverbs guy than a Psalms guy prior to all of this.  Now, the Psalms mean so much more to me.  I hope somebody understand this concept other than me.
  • My wife and I grieve differently.  Often I expect that Tammy knows what is happening in my head and that I know what is happening in her head.  This typically causes a communication breakdown.  Talking with Tammy, especially in dealing with our GreifShare class helps us both understand where each other is.  Tammy certainly has a music trigger.  We did our best to sing to Lanny while he was dying.  Eventually the lovely people at the hospital put on some religious music for us.  My triggers seem to be places and things.  Going past the "car lot" or seeing Nilla Wafers in the store get me.
That's my observations for the moment.  I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks (hey, it works for the congress).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Lord is Close

In Psalm 34:18 is says this:  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (NASB).

David is not talking about mourning specifically here, but the general principle applies.  I cannot think of a time in my life where I've been more brokenhearted the day my son passed away.  I was surrounded by family and church family through those hours.  My wife and I struggled for weeks and months just to get out of bed.  Yes, broken...hearted.  Then there is that crushed word.  Again, yes, our spirits were crushed, and by sheer will power alone, we got through each day, having to "get things done."  I know you know what I mean if you lost someone close.

The best part of this verse is that the Lord is near us in this time.  I don't think I'm too odd in this, but I felt far from God and still feel that some after a year.  Our hearts are broken and our spirits are crushed.  Those do not sound like problems we can fix with an aspirin. It takes time (growing tired of hearing that too, I get it).

So, our Lord God is close to us.  That is comforting.  When my emotions and grief are weighing me down and fogging my vision... the Lord is near.  He understands.  Remember, when Jesus was on the cross, burdened with our sins and the sun stopped shining, God's only son hug there for us (when we didn't deserve it).  The "Light of the World" was in darkness.  I think God knows my pain.  Even though he knew that he'd raise Jesus again, I think he felt the grief for his son and the burden of sin on him.  Yes, I think he knows.

Another verse that helps me know that God is prepared to hear from us in prayer, even when the words won't come is in Romans 8:26&27 which says:  In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

The Spirit, the Comforter, intercedes with groanings too deep for words.  We've been there, haven't we?

Death and dying are part of life and people everyday go through this process.  This is a true statement, but our own grief seems deeply personal, making us feel alone in it.  God knows and draws near and the Spirit intercedes for us.  Our heavenly grief support group is always there, always on duty, always drawing near.

God Bless!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thought of the day

Does the depth of a person's grief indicate anything?  When I read John 11, I read about the death of Lazarus.  Jesus is met by Mary who is crying, and all around Jesus are crying, mourning Lazarus.  Then John tells us that Jesus was "deeply moved in the spirit and troubled." (NASB).  Then, one of the most notable verses in the New Testament - "Jesus wept."  It is obvious that Jesus mourns, just like you and me.  He felt that searing pain deep in his spirit.  But what does this mean about how much Jesus loved this man?  Read on (this is the part I normally miss)...  The observation of the people around and what John felt was so very important is this:  “See how He loved him!”

Why does this speak to me so much?  Well, my brother died two years ago, and I preached his funeral.  (one of the hardest things I've ever done).  I felt the mourning and loss, but my brother and I had lost a regular daily relationship many years ago.  Certainly we loved each other.  It is a given with all my brothers.  We may not see each other, but it is unspoken.  That said, because I barely saw him, I believe I was able to recover more quickly.  In addition, my brother had been in a coma for 10 months prior to his passing.

However, when my son died last year, well, needless to say, I'm still feeling the effects.  My son was finally in a place where he could be successful and things seemed to be good.  His death stung so much more deeply and lasts so much longer.

My brother's death was preceded by 10 months of struggle for life so maybe some of my grief was dealt with there.  My son's death was preceded by only one week of brutal swings of emotion as he struggled for life.

Perhaps, the lesson here is not to compare grief.  Each is so different.  My reaction was different for two different people passing.  It doesn't really matter, does it?

In the end, the love is certainly deep for both, but the relationship, the daily walk with another deepens love, admiration, and care.   Jesus cared deeply for Lazarus and even though he knew he would raise him, wept.  Wept so deeply that it was notable by John and others.

My Jesus knows my pain.  He knows mourning.  I'm glad when I pray that Jesus is my intermediary since he knows my what is on my heart.

Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4