Friday, April 14, 2017

It Used to Be My Favorite Day of the Year

As bizarre as this may sound, Good Friday used to be my favorite day of the year. I always felt I truly couldn’t celebrate Easter without having experienced Good Friday. No Resurrection without a death…right?

I always found a Good Friday service to attend, which would help set the mood to usher in the rest of Easter Weekend. I loved the somberness of the day…not in a morbid sort of way. Simply, I wanted to try to experience even a fraction of the pain the followers of Christ felt on that Crucifixion Day. And, I wanted to rejoice, even among the sorrow, when Christ said “It is finished” shortly before his final statement and final breath. I knew the end result…the pain of the day would lead to rejoicing on the third day when the grave was found empty! Death had been conquered forever! I knew the end result…the followers on the day Christ was crucified didn’t. I knew victory was around the corner…but, they had to wait for that major pronouncement. I’ve always appreciated the beauty of the darkest day in history…the day death died.

Today…Good Friday…doesn’t provide quite the same emotion for me as many from prior years. I’ve lived in a “state of somber” for nearly nine weeks now. I still know the truth of what this day symbolizes…

  • Christ paid the ultimate penalty for my sin, allowing me the opportunity for life eternal with Him
  • His ultimate death ushered in the day eternal death died
  • Easter is coming!
  • Because of His ultimate sacrifice, I have the promise of spending eternity with both Joel and my previous husband (Chris) who went to Heaven already – along with many other believing family members and friends
  • I no longer fear death!!!

For me, however, the beauty of the “somberness” of this day simply invades the broken spaces of my soul in a new way. I know the truth (like I mentioned above), but the feeling it evokes (which used to bring me peace) just makes me sad today. Does this make any sense? I’m having a hard time even understanding my own feelings, I think. The best way I can express it…I am weary from being sad all the time. I long for joy to return and happiness to fill those empty crevices of my soul. That being said, today feels so sad. I want to just skip ahead to Sunday. But, that’s impossible…we can’t have the Resurrection without the death. The same was true for Joel. He couldn’t reach Heaven without dying first. I just wasn’t ready for him to go…

Forgive me Lord for not being able to allow the sadness of the day evoke feelings of everlasting joy for what you’ve done for me on the cross. I am eternally grateful. Today, however, I’m still aching, and the hurt is so heavy. Show me a glimpse of the joy you have prepared me for eternally. I need to see hope today. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

38 Days

38 Days. What’s the significance of 38 days anyway? It’s a little over a month. It’s less than the number of days and nights rain fell on the Earth during the days of Noah. It’s still quite a few days less than it takes to reach our next Christmas. So, what’s the big deal about 38 days?

It just happens to be the number of days you’ve lived in Heaven, my love.

It also happens to be the number of days

  • I’ve been a widow
  • I’ve slept in our bed without you
  • I’ve cried consecutively
  • I’ve worried over some element of my future (even though I’m trying really hard not to)
  • I’ve had to go without seeing a text message or phone call pop up from you on my cell
  • I haven’t been able to snuggle with you on the couch in the evening after putting the kids to bed
  • I’ve had to cancel another dream we shared together in our hearts or minds but never had the opportunity to fulfill
  • I’ve had to miss your warm embrace through your large teddy-bear-like hugs
  • I’ve had to go to bed without a goodnight kiss from you
  • I’ve had to wake up without hearing you say “Good morning sweetheart! How did you sleep?”
  • I’ve had to realize my life will never be the same again without you in it
  • I’ve had to parent our four youngest children alone
  • I’ve failed repeatedly at parenting our four youngest children alone
  • I’ve begged God to let me see a glimpse of you in my dreams
  • I’ve had something wonderful to share with you, but you’ve not been there to share it with
  • I’ve had to walk into our closet, and see your clothes hanging there…in the same places they’ve been for the previous 37 days
  • I’ve talked to you repeatedly, but you haven’t responded back
  • I’ve slept with your pillow in my arms
  • I’ve thought about how empty the rest of my life will feel without you in it
  • I’ve had to go without hearing you tell me you love me

Thirty-eight days…typically a rather insignificant amount of time. Until today. Today…38 days took on grand significance. Sadly, most of it brings on the tears. But…even so… #Godisstillgood

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One of the Worst Things You Can Say to Someone Who Just Experienced a Loss

hands“Let me know if you need anything.” she wrote in my sympathy card.

“Let me know if you need anything.” he told me as he hung up the phone.

“Let me know if you need anything.” she wrote on my Facebook wall.

In all honestly, those seven words sound very genuine…very sweet…very helpful…to the one saying them, that is. As one who walked the widow road, I actually learned to cringe when hearing those words.

After experiencing such tragedy, I needed someone to simply tell me what they were planning to do. Or give me simple choices to make…”Would you rather me bring dinner on Friday or dessert on Saturday?” But, the open ended statement of “let me know if you need anything” was simply…S.T.R.E.S.S.F.U.L. The last thing a person who has just experienced loss needs to know is that they have to now coordinate their own needs.

In the case of my widow journey, I simply had too many other things to coordinate or plan…a funeral and burial, how to dress my husband for burial, funeral expenses, estate plans, how to help my child return to school, when to return to work, when to go to counseling, what to eat since food is difficult to stomach these days…you get the idea.

Now…PLEASE don’t misunderstand me. I know this is generally a statement utilized when someone doesn’t know what else to say or truly doesn’t know how to help and is looking to the one grieving to figure that out for them. But, if at all possible, please don’t place that burden on them. Try to be more specific in your offer to help, or at least phrase the question in a way to narrow down the alternatives. This also helps them to know you really do want to help and are not just making an idle statement. How about these alternatives?

“Our children are going to the park tomorrow, can I pick up little Johnny to go with us?”

“We’re making soup and sandwiches for Saturday lunch, will you be home for me to drop off some for you?”

“I’d like to cook some meals for you to have in your freezer at a later date, will you be home Thursday or Friday evenings for me to drop them off?”

“Make I take you shopping to buy yourself something special to wear at the funeral?”

“When is your first counseling appointment? I’d like to drive you that day and will wait for you to finish. We can then go for a walk or go have coffee – whichever you prefer.”

There are exceptions to every rule, I know that, but I’ve discovered in talking with others that have experienced loss that they truly wish people would just DO instead of OFFER TO DO.

So, if you’ve experienced hesitation in the past in this area or offered that blanket “let me know if you need anything” statement to someone, I encourage you to ask God to show you a specific need and then simply meet that need. You will be blessed in serving, and the recipient will be blessed by not having to coordinate their needs!