John 11:35 NKJV
Her hair felt wrong. It was stiff and dry, not soft and supple like usual, as my fingers caressed it. The spirit who was my mother was gone. Unreachable. All that remained for me to touch and say goodbye to was this flaccid, lifeless shell.
I was jolted awake by the half-expected ringing of our phone. Adrenaline raced through my veins as I quickly stumbled down the hall. My mom had fallen a few times in the past two weeks. Dragging my feet onto the cold hardwood floor and stomach clenching, I said hello.
The call I had expected was worse. My mom had been found on the floor of her apartment, unconscious and unresponsive and rushed to the hospital. As my husband and I prepared to go, the ER doctor called to inform us of the situation. It wasn’t good, and we rushed to be by her side but didn’t get there in time.
I grieve anew as I remember and continue to be haunted by that phone call in the wee hours. Like a video on replay, the picture of my mom awakening, startled, alone, and frightened, keeps running through my mind. I wish I could have been there to wrap my arms around her and whisper words of love and comfort. She deserved that much, this woman who had tried to do that for many others. She didn’t always do it perfectly and even failed at times, lost in her own pain and fear, but she tried to live obediently to God in loving and serving others.
Even as I struggle with this grief and regret, I know God is Sovereign. He had a plan for my mother’s death. That plan included Covid, isolation, limited visitors, many long-distance phone calls from me to my mom, her doctor, nurses, and my siblings, and ambulance rides. But it was not his plan for me to be by her side when she died.
I don’t know why. I wonder and ask, but it is not for me to know at this time. What I can and do know is the Lord was with her. A better Presence and Comforter than I could ever hope to be. We are all ultimately alone when we take those final few breaths. Alone with our Creator, the Ruler of all, the I AM, Jesus. No other human can go there with us.
As I heard, with the rest of the world, of Queen Elizabeth II’s death and mourned, it brought back all those emotions, and my heart ached for the Royal family.
There are many areas and levels of grief. The death of a loved one, watching a child struggle with a life-threatening illness, slowly losing someone to the clawing grip of Alzheimer’s, witnessing the steady decline of a dear one battling alcoholism or drug addiction, the loss of cherished relationships or dreams, and changes in our own body, mind and life. Our lives are full of moments of grief. What we need to do is ask ourselves, how will we deal with it?
Friends and family can offer us support and kind, loving words, which are meaningful, but they can’t help with that piercing grip on our hearts that crawls up our throats, causing profuse streaks of salty water down our cheeks. They can’t be there in the dark of night when our eyes pop open and our new reality comes crashing back in. Only One can be there, who knows us intimately, understands the pain of loss and loves us deeper than anyone could. His name is Jesus.
He was and is with me as I grieve. His grace has shown up at the perfect time then and now, and it is so sweet and gentle it makes me weep with gratitude. This grace gave me the strength to bear those pain-filled, confusing and stressful days before and after my mother’s death.
Is your heart grieving in some way? Is there a heaviness on your heart and a fog in your mind making life confusing and difficult to maneuver? I understand how you feel, but most importantly, the LORD knows exactly how you feel. He will be with you in it and through it if you look to Him. Pour your heart out to Him, the good, the bad and the ugly. He can take it, and the Holy Spirit, whom the Bible calls the Comforter, will do just that.
Allow yourself to grieve fully in His presence, no matter what you are mourning, and rest in His loving, faithful, comforting arms. Your grief will never leave in this life, but it gets easier to bear as we trust the Lord and time goes on. One day, if we are followers of Christ, we will never grieve again when we leave this life for our new eternal life in Heaven.
What a glorious, joy-filled day that will be!
I pray for all of you, my friends, who are grieving on some level. Be in Scripture, reading the promises of our loving Lord. Pray, cry and give yourself time to sit in His Presence. He longs to wrap His strong, loving arms around you, whisper He understands and bless you with mourning grace.