Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Update & A Question

Tomorrow I hope to get back to posting as usual but for now I have a brief update.

I saw my grandmother this weekend in the hospital. She's very weak and had to have help to get from the recliner to her bed, only inches away. (Seeing her be lifted into bed was heart wrenching.) She has an upper GI tomorrow to determine why her esophagus isn't working. I cannot fathom putting her under for a procedure, but what do I know? (Don't answer that.)

After we all hugged, we were out the door of her room, leaving to go home and she asked Hailey to turn around. "Hailey, you know I love you, right?" Hailey smiled and waved, "I love you too GG." My grandma is amazing that in spite of her condition, she made a point to connect with Hailey knowing it may be the last time. What a gift.

On a personal note I'm having a harder time with this than I thought. Not that I had any idea how this would affect me. It hits me at weird times. For now my focus is to get through tomorrow (Monday) without being in a nasty mood.

(Me? Nasty? I'm sure you're shocked...)

For now, I have a question for you. How do we manage pain as believers? The pain of loss or grief (which may or may not have anything to do with death) can defeat the strongest of us. What was your grief situation? How did you deal with it? What doesn't work? What does?

21 comments:

Helen said...

When my dad died, I got mad at God. You can tell me I had no right. I even knew that then, but I was. When I prayed, I put my anger right there up front. Before I said another thing in prayer I'd say "You do know that I am still mad at you for taking my daddy away.." (I was 23, not a kid, so using the word daddy may have been just a bit pathetic). I knew that the omnipotent God who knew the hearts of all his children knew I was mad at Him, and it seemed more impertinent to hide my anger from God than it did to tell Him how hurt and unprotected I felt once my earthly father was gone.
I am not suggesting you get angry with God if you are not. But I am saying that you should share ALL of your feelings with God in prayer, including those you may feel you have no right to feel. We are His children....He expects to have to comfort us.
I said a prayer for you and your family to be able to come through this with an even stronger relationship with God.
As a sidenote, my relationship with God became stronger after I learned to tell Him all my feelings, not just the pretty ones.

katdish said...

Stacy-

I can't say I can add much to Helen's comment. I just think about David. He cried out to God in anger and in praise. God considered him a man after his own heart. Continue to pray for you, my friend.

Watch this: Do You believe that I loved you?

Amanda Mae said...

Stacy,
I am only 19 and a sophomore in college, but I have had an inordinate amount of people around me die for my age. I know many people who have never been to a funeral until well into adulthood, and I have probably been to one or more a year since I was born, but by now, I've gotten good at the sympathetic smiling, and knowing mostly what to say. So, I will share some of my expertise with you.
Mostly, the way I deal with things is that I don't. I am the one who takes care of things, and people while they are falling apart. I don't recommend this. What I do recommend is being honest with the people around you (even your kids) about how you're feeling. It's okay to cry and to be hurt and to acknowledge that the situation totally sucks. Talk to God about it. Tell him you're hurting. Talk to your husband, your kids, your mom. Let them know that you're sad or afraid or mad or relieved or whatever you're feeling. There's not a good or perfect solution to grief. The only thing I know that even begins to help is to acknowledge what's going on, and to seek community. Personally, I am the kind of person who likes to mourn in private, just so I won't emburden someone else, but something happens when two people share their grief, and often, the weight upon both is lightened.
Also, you should definitely cry. It's cathartic.

Kat(i)e said...

My church suffered a tragic loss this weekend because of the hit and run of a 12 year old boy. The context is entirely different I know, but my pastor talked about what grief looks like yesterday and understanding not understanding and it was very helpful. I blogged about it a bit last night, though you may not want to bother reading that, but it should be online here in a day or two:
http://www.woodlandschurch.net/

Praying that God will get you through this and that you will knowing His love covering your unanswered questions.

Jenny said...

Stacy, I lost my dad unexpectedly last year, and like Helen, I was angry. I don't know with whom I was angry.

I agree with Helen and encourage you to pour your feelings out to God. When you've got the best listener and heart-healer around, why try anyone else? So let Him know how you feel. He can take it.

It hurts worse to try and hold it all in.

After a year I finally feel "right" again. I still miss Daddy (Helen, I'm 45, but he'll always be "Daddy"), but I'm at peace with the situation. And I know as much as I miss him, I'd never dream of bringing him back here away from the joy he must be experiencing as he dances around the throne.

Prayers are still going up for you and your family.

Donna said...

Stacy, Amanda Mae speaks the truth......the year 2005 was our year of the locusts....my sil's mom, my fil, two uncles, and my grandmother....

it's ok to grieve, and its ok to choke up at kroger when you see your grandma's biscuit making flour, or your papa's favorite peppermints, or your fil's country ham.....

more importantly, its ok that your kids see you grieve....and know that it's ok for them to lots of feelings they don't understand, it's ok to be sad....

there's a verse somewhere that says, "we do not grieve as those who have no hope".....it DOESN'T say, "we do not grieve...."

Rebecca Jo said...

Grieving & death is NEVER easy, even for a believer - or even when you know death is near for someone...

Its all about the HOPE... the Hope of the future, the Hope of you will see them again.

I dont think ANYTHING can take away the pain completely. If you love someone that much, missing them is just part of it... time, & knowing the Truth of Christ is what will pull you through...

Sending hugs!

hadashi said...

there is a lot of good wisdom here. i would say: 1) do not try to control, censor, hide, regiment, or put a shiny happy Christian people wrapper on your grief -- trust God, the One who created you to love, to guide you through all of it. and 2) TALK or WRITE about your grief openly with Him and your community (family/friends/us out in Blog World) and then trust us to walk with you on your journey. grief is, well, so painful you may wonder why someone would volunteer to share it with you but just accept the love and compassion that is offered.
i lost my grandmother, my baby, and one of my best friends within 3 weeks' time at the end of 2008. i have learned a lot in these months about resilience, the faithfulness of God, and the love of friends and family.
my prayers are with you. you are doing the right thing by facing this head-on and letting you AND your kids have these interactions with GG.

Amelia said...

Stacy, I came here from SCL, and I am so sorry that your grandma is ailing. I'm thinking of you.

It IS okay to be angry, and to be sad, and to miss someone. And it's important for your kids to know that, too - that you love God, but you wish He had let you keep your grandma. There's nothing wrong with grieving someone you love, and I actually think it is an act of love to grieve.

eastern ky pastor said...

Stacy
I'm so sorry that you are going through a tough time. First, I'm not sure their is a right way to grieve. Each person is going to grieve their own way and that's okay. My main suggestions to folks is one be honest with your feelings. Realize that God has created you with a grief process; check out grief cycle. Be patient with yourself and others grieving through the situation. Finally, don't forget hope. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, not to grieve as those who have no hope. I think the positive is appropriate, "Grieve with hope." And remember Who holds your hand.

We'll continue praying for you and your family. It's the least the SFLBC Chaplin can do!

jonathan edmund said...

Mmm. I lost my Christian mentor my sophomore year of college. He was 33, he fell over due to a bizarre heart failure and that was that.

It's taken a few years to truly get over the loss and stop being mad at God.

Anyway, I found this great quote about losing someone the other day, which I posted here on my blog:

http://jonathanedmund.blogspot.com/2009/04/death-today-quote.htmlI plan on writing more about grief and loss sometime soon.

Marni said...

I've been angry with God too. And I told Him that, because He already knew it. His ways our not our ways...and thus the anger.

I'm with Donna and Helen on this one...if you're angry, tell God. He's big, He loves you, and He can take it. And let the kids see you grieve. Because they will be too, and grieving is easier when you know you aren't doing it alone.

I'm still praying for you my friend. And I'm so sorry that's all I can do. If I could come sit in the ashes with you, I so would. Thank you for taking time to keep us updated...

Beth E. said...

Stacy,
I sure am praying for your grandmother, you, and your family during this time.

Everyone's comments are really good. I think eastern ky pastor is spot-on! I don't have any additional thoughts or advice. Just know that I'm praying.

Blessings...
Beth E.

Beth said...

My grandma is very ill as well. She isn't expected to live very much longer. I don't get to see her too often because we live on opposite sides of the country. It is difficult to know that she is dying and I can't be by her side on a daily basis.

I've spent a lot of time over the last several weeks thinking about all of this. Here's what I've realized so far (I'm sure there's more to come). The vast majority of the sadness and hurt I feel is about not having my Nana around anymore. Even though I don't see her very often, Nana is "there". Now I'm coming to the place in my life when she won't be there anymore. I can only describe it as a sense of empty space in my life. The other thing I've discovered is that the pain and sadness is tempered by knowing that she's a believer and will, when she leaves us, be healed. And, as cliche as it sounds, I will see her again. It doesn't remove the sadness, but it truly does add a sweetness to the melancholy. Does that make sense?

Pam said...

All the comments so far are right on, except maybe when Helen calls herself a bit pathetic -- she isn't. I lost my dad when I was 22, and I know, there's a lot of life ahead that you'd hoped to share with your father.

What I'd add is what I've gleaned over the years, growing up in a family that is a bit matter-of-fact about death. If you've read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evonovich, and met Grandma Mazur, or read Fannie Flagg's Can't Wait to get To Heaven, you'll know from whence I come. (Can't Wait to Get to Heaven is a book you'd like, Stacy, at a happier time -- not theologically correct, but emotionally right on and so funny.)

Anyway, my advice is to take good care of yourself and those who depend on you. Grief is hard on you, mentally & physically. It IS harder to be "nice" when you're so sad. So try to eat good food, get some sleep, and keep your kids' schedule sane. Don't shrug off friends who want to help. Take the casseroles and freeze them for later.

From sin came death -- and that pretty much sucks.

Amanda Too said...

When I was grieving, I found the book Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card (yes, the musician) very helpful. Among other ideas, he explains that when we are grieving, we tend to question either 1)God's presence or 2)his love or 3)both. He suggests writing a lament to God, perhaps every day. The book includes an index of laments written by Biblical authors and other faithful Christ-followers through the centuries.

I am asking the Lord to surround you with his presence and his love as you walk through this season of loss.

Hugs!

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Stacy,
I was horribly angry when my dad became totally helpless with Alzheimers. For three years, I stared at this vacant man who was such an emotional and physical drain on the rest of the family. It was not him - merely a shell of who he once was. That was a very long grieving process. Finally, in his last 6 months I slapped myself up the side of the head and asked myself "How do you know he can't understand you? Just talk to him like you used to." So I read, prayed, chatted...just like he could understand me. There were actually times in there when I think he was a little more coherent and knew it was me talking to him. It was truly a blessing when he went to heaven. No more pain, no more suffering. But it was the most difficult grieving process I've experienced because it lasted so long. Today I still talk to him - it became a habit, and I find it very comforting. I'll see him again one day, and I find a great comfort in that.

God didn't care that I wrestled with Him - He just helped me find a way to cope. He will help you too. Listen for Him. I'll keep praying for you, friend.

Candy

Annie said...

Let's see - I lost my dad when I was 2 (that was the easy one), my grandmother when I was 8 (only grandparent), my mom when I was 10, my step-dad when I 13, one of my brother's when I was 33 and my sister when I was 36. I've been angry with God, but mostly He's been my comfort. I've always felt His presence when I've needed it most.

Be open, be honest, and know that pain is part of life. Just remembering that sometimes help it not feel so awful. Really what Donna said is so true...we grieve differently from those who don't have hope.

Hang in there.

rk2 said...

This sounds way more spiritual than I am, but a couple of weeks ago we had a sermon from II Corinthians 1 on the purpose of suffering. I'd always heard that we suffer in order to comfort others in their suffering, but on that Sunday this is what stuck out to me:

5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

We don't just share in Christ's suffering, but we share in His comfort too.

I think what you told your son is very comforting--GG will die because Jesus wants her home (wow, home!!!) with him.

Kelley said...

Hi Stacey! Thanks for your sweet comment - talk about uplifting!

I will be praying for you and your family.

cwatts said...

Chortling, Pansy Throwing Left Behind Author.

So I get to laugh while throwing around those wimps who are afraid of fire and brimstone raining down on them? HAHA!

Oh wait, or did you mean pansy as in the flower? Well just spoils my fun.