Tag Archive: Grief

Mom Was Not There

Last week I was concerned about how our small interment service for my mother would turn out, with a positive Covid test within the family, and possible concerns about being together.

I could not have been more at peace and joyful at how the day played out. While several could not attend because of illness, my oldest brother Mel drove, and nephew Josiah flew in for the service. I shared some of my sweet memories of Mom, then talked about the depression I fell into after her death. It was the perfect storm–losing Mom, Covid lockdowns, and violence in our own country. Fear clutched my heart for some time, but with the love of Don, family, wise counseling and a new medication, I was able to return to trust in the One who holds us fast. The One who held my mother in her dying, her body’s fight to hold onto life even though she was so eager to meet Jesus.

I have created you and cared for you since before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!

Isaiah 46:3 NLT

Mom was quite healthy all her life, and mentally acute. However, there were times, especially in her last year or so, when her hearing was very poor. Once in awhile she’d catch something I said and a sparkle would light her eyes. I cherished those times. “There’s my Mom.”

Some of Mom’s grandchildren read a few of her favorite scriptures, including the one above. One played a copy of her singing “All in the April Evening” with my brother Arnold. Mel, Bob and Sheila, and Don each recalled memories of Mom, and Bob closed in prayer.

We put the box of Mom’s ashes into a pretty basket with love notes to her around it. Sheila, my very creative sister-in-law, brought a rose and a wereneki (that sweet Mennonite/ Ukrainian specialty I mentioned last week which was one of our favorite family meals) to put into the basket. I mean, when my brothers and I were younger they could down 22 or 23 of these at a time–no mean feat!

Sheila’s kids told her Mom (Grandma) would say putting those in the basket was a waste, but I could see Mom laughing in delight. “That’s great, Sheila. Thank you.”

The basket was placed above Dad’s coffin. We tossed roses into the grave and left a bouquet in the vase that would remain outside the grave.

Mom was not there. As Billy Graham once said, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

And so we leave Mom’s ashes along with Dad’s grave, a place we can visit and remember. But we leave them, knowing both Mom and Dad have gone into the presence of God.

Loss … and Hope

Don and I were enjoying the beauty of Hawaii, its turquoise waters, clear and sunny skies, when we heard that nine people were murdered in cold blood in our hometown of San Jose, California. Nine Valley Transportation Authority employees, leaving behind spouses, children, siblings. Men between the ages of 29 and 63. The shooter then killed himself.

According to his ex-wife, the shooter often complained about his work, feeling others got easier assignments than he did. She told the Bay Area News group “When he was in a good mood he was a great guy. When he was mad, he was mad.”

These families will grieve the loss of their loved ones deeply. Little children will grow up without their fathers. Wives are left to raise children as single parents. And we need to reach out and care for them in ways we can, even while we pray for their comfort.

So much tragedy, so much loss and pain. How can we respond to such senseless violence?

person pushing a control button
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

I just read about an eighth-grade math teacher who heard gunshots in the hallway. She told her students to run to the high school and not to look back! But the teacher went into the hallway to see how she could help. A young girl holding a gun had already shot two students (who were hurt but would recover). The teacher went to see if she could help the wounded, then looked up to see the girl pointing the gun at her.

Quietly, the teacher spoke to the girl. She approached and put her hand over the girl’s hand, which held the gun. The girl released the gun. The teacher called the police but didn’t stop there. Instead, she took the girl into her arms, holding and comforting her until help arrived. The woman’s actions took courage; they also showed compassion for a young girl just forming the rest of her life.

My relationship with God through Jesus Christ has given me hope in the midst of grief and suffering. Yes, I’ve felt depressed and alone. But God never left me. He is faithful and true. Jesus said of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

The apostle John wrote about God’s amazing love when he said,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17, NIV

My oldest brother gave the eulogy at my father’s memorial service. He said, “For 57 years, Dad, you’ve taught me how to live. This last month, you’ve taught me how to die.” Our father died with grace and courage, trusting that the God who led him for 85 years would not abandon him in death.

What a legacy if we can teach our children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren how to live for Jesus; and how to die with confidence in his eternal salvation.

Do you know this Jesus? Want to know more about him? Let’s talk.