Monday, October 22, 2012

Good Grief?

This past week our family has had to deal with the unthinkable.
Just saying the word causes me to have chills.
I don't even want to write the word.


Yes. Awful. Sad. Heartbreaking. Confusing.

Needless to say, it's been an incredibly difficult week.
My eyes hurt so much from crying.
No one is ever ready to deal with death, even when we all know it's a reality of life. But death of this kind makes the whole process loaded.

"Normal death" comes with sadness, expectations lost, questions, confusion, family hardship, and different coping mechanisms.

This kind of death jacks up every one of the elements, sending them whizzing around in a completely different direction.

My only hope, my only sense of peace and stability in this situation has been God.
 (Jesus wept, snarled, when he encountered the death of Lazarus).

So, during the past eight days, I've simply practiced what I believe. Death was never God's plan for humanity. We have an enemy who's mission is to steal, kill, and destroy God's people and goodness in the world. God created us to know him and live in Him. God created a way to live an abundant life. God is not only near, but within. The same Spirit that resurrected Jesus from the grave, lives in me. Therefore, I can go on. I can live, with hope.


Comforting people through death can be awkward and difficult.

Words are never enough and sometimes they are just not even right response. We don't know what to day and sometimes we say too much, weird stuff, and random things.


That is what been the most comforting for me.

Honestly, I'd rather not even talk about it, let alone post about it via social media.

But in the spirit of authenticity, I'm trusting in what God has been preparing in me the past couple weeks (speaking out), because others need to hear this story.

I avoided posting anything this week except scripture and most amazing readings from the book, "Jesus Calling." It's how I've found any ounce of hope and rational thinking.

As well as playing lots of music like the new Bethel album, "For the Sake of the World."

When I spoke at my Grandma's memorial, one of her friends approached me afterward. Both her husband and her brother took their life. She has been under a cloud of sadness, and after hearing the hope of Jesus, she found encouragement.

I spoke about how NOTHING can separate us from the LOVE OF GOD.
Romans 8.
Not life, death, suicide, nothing.

My Grandma was sick. She was bedridden and unable to take care of herself and her bodily functions. She was extremely sad, steeped in grief from my Grandad's death in April. I loved her immensely. We had a great relationship. I prayed with her many, many times, even dealing with her desire to end her life before. I tried to remind her of the value of her life, God's love for her, and that God had a purpose to go on living. But She was, in Martin Luther's words, "overcome."

Here is what Luther said:
“I don’t share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber. . . . They are examples by which our Lord God wishes to show that the devil is powerful and also that we should be diligent in prayer. But for these examples, we would not fear God. Hence he must teach us in this way.” [Vol. 54:29].

 What has give given me hope? That Jesus hated death and gave his life to conquer it and connect us with God the Father. And God is a great father. A lover. A hope giver. Even though feelings, and circumstances are painful, I believe and trust good will come, because God is good.

I'm letting myself feel sad when I need to feel sad. I'm letting myself be quiet when I need to be quiet.  And I'm letting myself cry when I need to cry (holding my kids and listening to certain songs has been doing it).

And all the while, I'm embracing God's love and presence with me, and for my family. I will not let the evil one win. I reject his work, because I know God redeems, God wins.

Lamentations chapter 3. Words from one of God's own, his prophet, Jeremiah, have helped me during this dark time.
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
 it is good to wait quietly for the Lord.
So......prayer for me and my family is greatly appreciated. I AM grieving. And trying to find the good and healthy way to do so. And hoping I can help my family (and others), do so, too). The experts say, even though work gives you three days to grieve, realistically the process will take three months to three years. I'm grateful to walk with Jesus, the creator of the universe, giver of life, and conqueror of death, through it all.  Grief can be good.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this Tony. Wow, never read/heard that piece from Luther. That definitely resonates. Thank you for reminding me that A) Death is never "part of the plan". and B)Crying, weeping, and remorse do not conflict with masculinity.

Tracey said...

Last year right before Thanksgiving one of our friends took his life. Planned it out to every detail, packed up his car and apartment and left a note for the apartment manager who would come into the office in the morning. He wrote a note to his soon-to-be exwife and his children. And he wrote a note to Mo, the last person he had spoken to just hours before he hung himself. It was the final phone call he had had with a living person and he never once let on as to what he would do. I watched Mo spend months in anger and disbelief. (I know he wondered if all those hours on the phone, late nights listening and praying, and time away from family in vain?!) Mo read the letter once and then handed it to me. Our friend spoke of a "giving a gift" to those he loved by removing his bothersome life. Heartbreaking and maddening. I cry still thinking about how his heart was so clouded with self hatred, enough to believe it was better served dead.
When you talk about your "interrupted" moments I think of this ALL the time. How any interaction with a stranger, a friend, could be the interaction that encourages him or her to hang on for one more day. It pains me more than anything in life to think that someone could believe his life is worthless. This is what drives me to exhort--the beautiful sacredness of life (and the mission of the enemy to tarnish it).
So I pray this experience elevates your passion to exhort others, as I have seen you already do. I think one of God's greatest tangible acts of love is when he uses his children to heal via encouragement.
How awesome it is that you have the opportunity to marry your artistic/creative side with a ministry of speaking truth into a person's life. Powerful!
Grieve, yes. Gotta grieve. But I will be watching to see how God magnifies this moment in your life to a greater purpose.
He has given you great gifts Tony. So fun to see you living into them.