Thursday, October 8, 2015

Living after

Tuesday afternoon, not quite 24 hours after Jamie took her last breath in this world, the minister finished his beautiful, love-filled sermon, said a prayer, and pronounced us "dismissed". We were free to go. 

Of course, we didn't go. We milled around, chatting, hugging Sam, and whispering behind his back. Every whisper was some variation of "Is he going to be alright?" I wanted to say, "Of course, he's going to be alright. I'll take care of him. I won't let him be anything but alright." I know that's a ridiculous answer.

It may sound like pride talking, but it's not. It's fear. 

I fear the living after, for sometimes spouses who remain find that the living after is too hard. They can't muster the will to press on and, before you know it, the one left behind gives up and dies, as well. 

I fear Sam will be one of those too-quickly-gone surviving spouses.

In the midst of my occasionally messy life, I've learned a little about loss. It's always hard, and losing someone we love is especially hard. It hurts a long time. When you least expect it, the pain of loss will jab you in the heart and nearly knock you off your feet. A few times, that sneaky pain-jab has not just knocked me off my feet. It laid me flat on my face, and it was a good thing. 

Face to the floor, I poured the pain in my broken heart before God and He took it. He adjusted it. He made something new. He brought me through.

I cannot bear, not even for one second, the thought that Sam might give up and die. That he might not find the will to press through his loss is unthinkable. I know it happens, so don't tell me. I don't want to consider it, not even for a minute. 

The truth, though, is that we will all die, including Sam. One day, the loss I'm grieving will be the man I love the most. Sam's been my daddy, my granddaddy, my dearest friend, my wisest counselor. He has taught me truth I didn't know I needed. He's gently molded me into the woman I have become. 

He's filled some mighty big shoes, and he's done it with more grace than I deserve. 

I love this good man and, as I escorted him into the home that has been filled with so much love, the home that now seems like an empty shell, I choked back tears. Other than Ryan, I love Sam more than anyone else on this earth. His joys are my joys. His sorrows are my sorrows, and this week, his sorrow is overwhelming. 

Most of the people at the funeral knew that I was leaving town the next day. Most people asked, "How can I help?" To every person who asked, I said the same thing. "Go check on him." 

When we are grieving, the thing we need the most is not platitudes. The thing we need the most is for those we love to surround us. To be quiet with us. To weep with us. To be present with us. To help us find our way from grief to life again. 

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4

Comfort. That's what Sam will need, and I left town knowing that I can trust those who also love him. The good people of Blue Springs will stop by his house, spend a few minutes at the store talking with him, take him some supper. They will comfort him with their presence and surround him with their love.

The blessing of community is invaluable, but there is even greater help available. I'm counting on the God who has sustained Sam through every other loss he's endured to carry him through this loss, as well. 

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

There is no wound we have that God cannot heal, no sorrow He cannot comfort. Sam knows the truth of that promise and so do I. We're counting on it to carry him through. 

Here are the links to previous posts in this series:  The eternal destinationThe VigilA Little Help from My FriendsKeeping My WordDeathbed PrioritiesDeathbed Priorities, part 2Death is Not The End., and Shifting Our Sorrow. 

#grief #griefrecovery #comfortthosewhomourn #Jesus #community

Thanks for traveling this journey with us. There's more to come, and tomorrow, we'll have something other than sorrow to celebrate. I don't know what yet, but I'm sure we will. See you then.