My mother, Mildred, passed away 12 years ago on December 9, 2002 of a heart attack, and it was a complete shock. We had just returned from the Philippines and stopped over in Hawaii to be with my parents for Thanksgiving. I had never been home for Thanksgiving since I left Hawaii to attend college at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon 38 years ago. So, it was such a delight to be with my mom and dad and the rest of the family. I returned back to Portland and, nine days later, received the news that my mother had died. I received the news at church while attending a leadership community meeting. I remember just wailing in the halls of the church.
Going through grief is a process. Prior to this happening, I remember attending a workshop on how to help people work through their grief, and I saw it as textbook information. The reality of going through the grief of losing my mom suddenly was not textbook. It was painful. My husband, Doug, and our children loved my mom, and we were able to grieve together. Our church family surrounded us with love and many tangible expressions of love through word and deed. Most of all, Jesus held my heart and grieved with me. The verse, “Jesus wept”, became real to me. Jesus is present in every moment of our life. He is especially present in our pain. He truly knows because he experienced pain and suffering himself.
After my mom’s death in December, my younger brother, Sidney, passed away of a heart attack. It was in February, just two months after my mom’s death and my heart ached even more. Words cannot express the loss I felt and, yet, the complete peace and hope that only the Lord can give in these painful times. Jesus is our rock and fortress when life is confusing, overwhelmingly sorrowful, and unstable.
Grief is described like ocean waves, and it truly was for me because they came in little waves and sometimes huge waves that knocked me over. During these times you hold close every relationship you have. You want to look up every verse about heaven and you want to talk about heaven and how your loved one is enjoying Jesus. My mother accepted Christ when she was five years old while she was an orphan in the Salvation Army Home for Girls. Her favorite verse was John 3:16 and she memorized Psalms 91 to get her very own Bible. (I have her Bible now.)
Christmas time can bring both pleasant and heartbreaking memories. Experiencing loss of any kind, beyond death, can look like many things such as divorce or a loss of a friendship, loss of a dream or just loss of not being with your family because they live far away. Remember Jesus will never leave or forsake you. He loves you and He has you in the palm of His hands.
Many times I experience fear and the reassuring verse, which is my life verse is: Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. Surely I will strengthen; surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” We can call on His name for comfort and peace.
Time does heal, but I must admit writing this blog brought tears of sadness but also tears of joy knowing I will see my mom and my brother again. It is important to express our grief with others so they can minister to our broken heart.May I extend my support if you need someone to talk to about the grief you are experiencing no matter what the situation. Our staff and elders are here to shepherd you as you go through difficult times. There are others who are part of Stephen Ministry that can also come alongside you as you work through your loss. Don’t do this alone! We are here for each other.
May the Lord Jesus bless you this Christmas as you celebrate His birth with your family and friends.