Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Strength Through Grief

On August 6, 2012, my dad passed away at 7:41 a.m.  So far, this has been the worst day of my life.  Many family members, including my mom, siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles, surrounded my dad the last few hours of his life.  I will never forget the day he went to be with the Lord.

His funeral was beautiful, literally.  The Lord's spirit moved in such a gentle way and there was such a peace that Dad was finally where he desired to be...with his Savior.  This should have been the comfort that kept me after his passing. However, the grief that overtook me after the chaos of planning the funeral and making sure all the details were right, was overwhelming.  So overwhelming, in fact, that it took me a year to get over it.  Still, there are days that the tears flow.

Several of my friends had parents who passed away.  I always thought, "I understand their sadness, but their loved ones are out of pain.  Why are they so upset?"  Yeah, I know.  I was clueless.  Not until it happened to me did I realize the extreme emotions that would drive me in the upcoming days, weeks, and months. It was God's grace, mercy, and love that brought me through.

To anyone who has known any kind of grief, it is not something you can just turn on and off.  It's embedded in you, like DNA.  It just happens.   For me, it felt like I was a zombie walking through life.  I didn't want people to pray for me or console me.  I was angry that he was gone.  I was frustrated that there was nothing I could do about it. Sadly, I was mad at God for taking him when he wasn't finished living.  Or, that's what I perceived had happened.  Though I live away from my family, the memories of Dad surrounded me:  his and Mom's frequent visits, Dad playing with the kids in the pool, vacations we would go on together.  Rivers of water would pour out of my eyes.

However, about mid-way through it all, a friend of mine gave me a CD entitled "Good Grief," by Mickey Mangun, a pastor's wife in Louisiana.  As I listened to her, I realized that it could have been me speaking, her message was so on target with what I was going through.  Why?  Because she went through the same thing.

One thing I learned through my loss and listening to this dear woman of God was that I do not have the monopoly on grief.  We all experience it at one time or another.  Do not get me wrong.  As this dear lady reiterated, what we go through is our own, what we feel is real.  Nobody can actually understand it like we do because we are the ones having to suffer through it.  Jesus is the only one who can help us through and who knows how we feel.

You see,  regardless of how we feel or how up and down our emotions are, His word is true and He does not lie.  Nehemiah 8:10 says, "For the joy of the Lord is your strength."  I firmly believe that the joy He gives is one that surpasses our human understanding.  We joy in living for Him and knowing that He is our peace and strength through the tough times.

When deciding what to put on Dad's headstone, Mom wanted something that meant something to him. Since Dad had gone through so much physically the last year of his life, we all came to agree on Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me."  If only Dad could have known that the words that described him would become my source of strength and hope through his passing.

I can look back now and know, without a doubt, that the Lord brought me through and I am better for it. Does this mean I miss Dad any less?  Absolutely not.  But I can help others who go through the same thing. I can actually say, "I understand," with truth.  Remember, Jesus suffered loss and experienced grief.  He will bring you through!!!

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

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