Today marks two years since Mom went home to Jesus. Ten days from now will mark eight months since Daddy passed. It will be my first Christmas without a parent on earth to share it with.
I’ve been so emotional today. I was drinking coffee with my husband this morning and tears kept rolling down my face. He was giving me good advice about not having regrets and trusting God and having grateful thoughts.
I finally told him I wasn’t having regrets or bad memories or even thoughts that were bringing the tears. They were just coming. Unstoppable. They were soul tears. Not thought tears. Not even memory tears. Just tears of the soul.
It’s been two years of grieving, plus all the losses along the Alzheimer’s journey with Mom, and I’m still surprised by the weight of grief. It can just sit on my heart some days, so heavy. So exhausting.
And it breaks my heart to think of people much younger than me going through this pain and loss.
I went to a funeral last week of a friend just two years older than me who suddenly died. She has two kids close in age to my biological children, and we watched them grow up together with frequent visits and shared meals.
I hugged my goddaughter, Heidi, at the funeral and told her how sorry I was. And then I added that we would see her mom again, because she trusted in Jesus. And Heidi nodded and said, “But it will be too long until I do.” And I couldn’t disagree. I know God is in control. But I know the separation will feel too long. Way too long.
My own parents never talked about how they felt when they lost their parents. Life seemed to just go on. Though one time I did ask my dad how he felt when he thought about his mom being gone. He surprised me by saying it made him feel sick. I would have never known if I hadn’t asked. And Dad was 63 and his mom was 92 when she passed.
Knowing what I do now about the pain of grief, it made me wonder if there was anything I could share that might help my own children get through it someday. I don’t know if words can help, and God willing they won’t need them for many years to come, but here’s what I would say…
You are not alone. Every generation throughout history has had to say good-bye to loved ones. Everything you’re feeling is common to man and part of life.
And whatever you’re feeling is okay. Some days you will be in the valley. Other days you will feel normal or even strong. Some days you will need to be gentle with yourself. Some times you will need to tough it out and trust that God is giving you grace for what He calls you to do.
Don’t spend time regretting what you could have, should have, or might have done differently in caring for me and spending time with me. I’m confident you did the best you knew how to at the time. I’m sure you were praying and looking to God for direction.
But if you truly feel it’s God convicting you of something you should have done differently then confess it and learn from it and move on. If it’s your own self-doubt let it go and know that God is sovereign and I am at perfect peace now.
We are on this earth to love God and bring Him glory. And to love others as ourselves. So don’t let grief turn you inward or make you selfish. Keep seeking God and surrendering your life to Him. Pour out your heart to your Abba Father. Worship Him. Sing praises to Him. Read the Psalms. Go to church and be involved enough to know other people so you can carry each other’s burdens.
It’s alright to feel your emotions and to cry when you need to. But don’t stop seeking joy and don’t feel any guilt when you do. Treasure every moment and blessing you can! Keep your heart full of gratitude. Keep your soul open to the new adventures God will call you to. You are my living legacy. Be a vibrant, joyful one!
I hope you stay connected with your siblings. Dad and I didn’t make us a family– God did. He put us together for a reason. Keep loving one another. Keep making the effort to get together. Keep doing whatever family traditions bring smiles.
But, having said that, holidays are going to be different and challenging for awhile. Bittersweet is what I’d say. It’s hard to explain until you’ve been through it. You may not feel like celebrating. Do it anyway.
You’re all adults now, but I’m using my Mom Card here. Holidays are gifts from God. They remind us of the many things He’s done for us, and they are to be celebrated!
Simplify if you need to. Get more help if you can. You have my blessing to use paper plates if that helps. But make a plan for each holiday you can and follow through! You will be thankful you did. And you will be making memories for the generations following you.
Don’t let grief rob you of life! You honor the memories we made together best by making new ones with those you love. Treasure our sweet times. And keep creating new ones!
And above everything, make sure your heart is right with Jesus, so that you know we will see each other again! Stay close to God! If you’re not right with Him, then that is your first priority, because I need you in Heaven with me for eternity! “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” (3rd John 4)
Please don’t fall away. Don’t let your heart turn cold or even lukewarm towards Him. Read His precious Word. Be faithful in prayer. Keep your heart tender to His Spirit and leadings and follow Him. He has a plan and will work everything out for good. Keep seeking Him with all your strength and soul!
His tender mercies will get you through this time of grief in a way that nothing else and no one else can. Lean on Him. Trust Him. Hide under the shelter of His wings.
When my dad was on his death bed I said to him, “I love you so much.” And he surprised me by answering, “I’m sorry.” I thought that was such a strange reply at the time. I mentioned it to your dad later and he explained, “I think he said that because he knows how hard it’s going to be for you because you do love him.”
And that made sense. And so my love for each of you leads me to say, “I’m sorry.” I know this is going to be hard for you. Grieving my parents is probably the hardest things I’ve ever done. I would spare you from it if I could.
But you will get through this. Hold onto Jesus. Hug each other. Cherish the little ones. Be still and know that He is God.
Remember that we “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13, NIV)
As believers in Jesus we will be together again and for eternity. The end of the story is good for sure! Make the WHOLE story good by trusting and following Him!
And always remember that being your mom was an honor and the delight of my life. I’m so grateful God blessed me with each one of you! I love you forever!
Now kiss my grandchildren for me and teach them to know Jesus. Have a bite of chocolate for me on my birthday and carry on with the life God has blessed you with!
He is good. He is faithful! All the time!
(Now if I can only practice what I preach. Help me, Lord, please. Amen.)