Monday, January 24, 2011

Genuine Friendships Within the Storm of Grief

"In a culture that does not like to acknowledge loss or talk about the impact, it's difficult to grieve. And when we add this silence to the fact that most of us have never been taught about the process and normalcy of grief, no wonder we struggle."~~ H. Norman Wright

As the days slowly pass since Momma died, I am seeing the blessing of strong relationships and true friendship. God has placed people in my life who are truly safe places. Even though my Daddy is hurting tremendously, he continues to encourage me that mourning, which is an outward expression of grief, is very normal. He is a very safe person in my life and I admire his strength in the midst of His own anguish. In addition, I feel such an overwhelming sense of gratitude of the amazing friends God has placed around me in this difficult and trying season of my life. I never want to let them go.

Yesterday,Daddy sent photos of Momma's gravestone. When I awoke I turned on my computer to check my email.The photo above is what I saw. I stared at it for the longest moment. My mother, who was so vibrant and full of life...and here is a granite stone with her beautiful name engraved upon it. It just seemed completely unreal all over again. And the thrashing waves of grief threatened to overtake me as the tears flowed through out the day. However, they were much needed as I have withheld a seemingly internal waterfall for the "sake of the children." But I know this is needed. I know this is good. And I know it is normal.

My heart is swollen with immense gratitude for the precious people in my life who have allowed me to express my pain. These precious souls have not tried to heal me, nor have they attempted to advise me on how to heal. These few friends have simply entered into my wound, sat with me as I have bled, and told me they are there. How simply powerful is this? How loving and gracious?

I have been reading a book written by a mother of an autistic child entitled, "Let Me Hear Your Voice", by Catherine Maurice. She expresses her need for just simple understanding after the loss of a stillborn baby as well as processing the news of her young daughter's diagnoses of autism. This is what she says.

"None of us, especially myself, wants to jump into another's pain. If we can't fix something in our friend's life, we feel helpless. If we can't make it go away, we want to pretend it is not there. We don't know what to say. We are at a loss for words.Our lives have their own aches and sorrows. If we see poverty, we try at least to help by giving some money away,even though we know our money does not go very far. But if we see heartbreak, most of us are less effective; we try to talk the person out of it. Often we have to learn that there is no solution for suffering. Everyone has some of it sooner or later. What helps is to have one or two people around who keep trying to understand, who are just willing to just hold our hand as we walk on through it."

As I pondered these words, I realized that God has blessed me with very strong people who have truly partaken of my pain. They have not tried to "fix" things, they just sat with me, loved me, and comforted me. I just want to express my appreciation because you all have been a true example of Christ in my life. God simply wants to enter into our pain, for He genuinely experiences it and deeply feels it. He never minimizes our trials because our sufferings are as personal to Him as they are to us. When my child is hurt, I hurt too if not more. I am reminded of the passionate and intimate love of our Father who longs to enter into our hardships and embrace us right in the middle of that messy place. Grief is not tidy. Grief cannot easily be defined. But it is an appointed part of life that every soul shall experience. No two shall experience it the same. But we all shall feel it's sting. So in the midst of mourning, God will envelope us in His love, in His understanding, and knit the body of Christ into the beautiful masterpiece He has called us to be.

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 4:15 The Message

Love to you all, my precious and loving friends,


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Lovely Life

One month ago today, I received a phone call from my Dad that my mother was not doing very well. By the sound of Daddy's voice, I knew it was very serious. She had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance and her heart rate dropped dangerously low. For one day, a life support system kept her alive but her soul was already gone. Her heart stopped beating for good on December the 12,2010. It has been one month and I still cannot believe she is gone. Her death was so sudden and shocking. Some days I wonder if I have moved on from the shock. It all still seems so unreal. I wake up in the morning and for one second all seems normal. Then the reality hits me all over again. My mother is in Heaven now. I will not hear her voice over the phone. I will not see her pretty face or chat with her on Face book. Sometimes I think of her at home working in the yard, reading a good book, working a puzzle, cooking yummy food, or just sitting with my Daddy having a pleasant conversation. I often think of the joy she brought to others. She made people feel special when they were in her presence. She was a happy woman and she made people smile. She did many kind things for others but she never announced her good deeds. Momma was also very precise and organized. She wrote lists of everything she needed to do and she completed them all. I always told her she could be the CEO of a major corporation because she was so organized and disciplined. She would have made a wonderful leader and boss because not only did she know how to "get the job" done but she had fun doing it! She was a leader because she led me. And I pray that I will be able to carry on her legacy.

My mother had a heart of gold and she always found ways to encourage others. I will never forget the wise words she gave me when I was in the 6th grade. I was a new student in middle school. Some of the kids were very unkind and I would come home from school crying everyday. She would put her arms around me and tell me not to worry. She said, "All you need to do is find some children like you who feel left out. Make friends with them and do not worry about the ones that are being mean." I took her advice to heart and it worked.

Momma was also a very beautiful woman. When I was a little girl, I loved to watch her do her hair. I remember she had a beehive hairstyle back in the day, and she would tease it up until it stood about 8 inches above her head. I would admire her beauty. To me, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was not perfect, but she was herself and she loved me. That made her the most beautiful woman in my eyes.

In John 10:10, Jesus said He came to give us life so that we can have it more abundantly. My mother lived an abundant life. She knew how to enjoy life but the abundant life is much more. Her life was overflowing with the fruits of the spirit which are pleasing to God. She lived knowing she was loved, therefore she granted love. Momma was full of joy,exuded a peaceful countenance, was graced with patience, showered others with kindness, exemplified goodness, remained faithful, and maintained a gentle manner as well as self control. Many benefited from her beautiful qualities. I know I have!

Even though I have all of the memories of the person she was, I now love to ponder the person she continues to be in the presence of her Maker. Her life here on earth was lovely and her life in Glory is even lovelier. This woman's name is Linda and her name means "pretty". What a fitting name for such a wonderful woman who loved God, loved her family and loved her friends. I miss her so much. My heart aches with longing to see her again. And because the Hope of Glory lives in my heart, I know that I will be with her again to hear her voice and to see her smile. Momma, I know you are serving the Lord and resting in His care. I bet you are completing everything on your list and assisting God in preparing a magnificent place for us when we finally meet again. I love you my lovely mother!