Sunday, December 20, 2015
What do you do with grief during the holiday season?
When you're a believer and someone you love dies who isn't a believer, what do you do? The platitudes of comfort that one believer offers to another are almost meaningless because there is no hope of eternal life for the person you've lost. True, I don't know what miracles the Lord Jesus works at the very end of someone's life. Maybe there is an Andrew like in Touched by an Angel who spends 5 minutes with everyone on earth right before they die, sharing the good news. It's possible.
My father's oldest living sister, Janet, died a few months ago. A more generous, accomplished and compassionate woman you couldn't hope to meet, but she never claimed an interest in faith or God. My aunt is gone. And I have no hope of ever seeing her again. This is literally the first loss I've ever experienced where the other person wasn't a Christian. What do you do? How do you handle the shock? Or how about the guilt that you should have done more? Should have said more. Should have shared more without fear bogging you down. It's crazy, I know. People make their own choices in this life and it's not like she never heard the good news, because I know she did, many times throughout her life, from my father, from their mother, and from who knows how many other friends and acquaintances.
Today the grief just struck a little too close. I'm on vacation until the 28th, celebrated a great day yesterday with various groups of people at different times, yet I woke up in a messy frame of mind that robbed me of my joy. And is still trying to rob me of my joy, even after listening to a sermon on how God is our loving Abba. All of the grief books for Christians focus on grieving when you've lost a fellow believer. How often is that really the case? Where you only ever have friends and family who are Christians? An entire group of Christians is left without guidance and comfort in these grief workshop books because the authors never considered Christians having secular family.
So my heart is torn up right now. My sister, lacking the knowledge of how to help me or even fully knowing what's wrong (just like I didn't really know what's wrong until just a few minutes ago) has gone off to see Star Wars without me and I'm home. I don't hold it against her. She's already been through an intense grieving period for our aunt. Mine just came a little late, it seems.
Please, if you think of me during this Christmas season, pray for me. That I'll be able to digest and cope with my aunt's death, rebuke the Evil One's whisperings in my ear, and find joy again. I know the joy is there, deep inside, but it's tired right now, and needs a little encouragement. To be honest, writing the emotions out seems to have helped. I suck at verbalizing my emotions, but it's different with my writing. I guess it's a gift the Lord gave me. I just need to remember to use it.
Knowing me, tomorrow may be an amazingly joyous day since these emotions come in waves and then are gone. It's what I'm praying for.