Monday, November 18, 2013

A New Perspective

Not long ago, my best friend passed away. It seems that grief takes on a different meaning with each loved one I lose, as well as my age when it occurs.

As a pre-teen, my grandfather died of a heart attack. Pain struck, swift and sure. Yet, I was able to bounce back in a fairly short time. Years later, my father went to be with the Lord. His death was sudden, and his absence was hard to accept. For a long time, I kept looking at his favorite chair expecting to see him.

My husband's death broke all previous records for hurt. Although he was sick for 14 months, the intensity stunned me. The vision of a paperdoll ripped in two embedded in my mind. For a time, all I wanted was for the Lord to take me as well. As more people I loved departed this life, my homesickness for heaven grew.

This recent loss was so unexpected that it took on a surreal quality. I'd talked to her a few days before. How could she be gone? The messages she left on my answering machine were full of life. Yet, I could no longer email her with a funny story or make plans for a visit. A gaping hole was left where she prayed for me, gave advice, and shared life events.

As the Lord began healing my broken heart, I thought about how I could incorporate the different stages of mourning into my writing. It's one thing to look at the panorama of loss with the naked eye and quite another to see things under the magnification of personal experience. Here are a few things I learned:

1.  The variety of emotions and thoughts that went through my head defied all logic. Although I knew each of them were with the Lord and the separation was temporary, it changed my way of life.

2.  We'd built relationships, lived life together, created memories. After they departed, those things brought pain because that chapter closed. Only as the Lord brought new connections and new memories did those times once again bring joy and laughter.

3.  I understood how someone losing a mate ran the risk of dying within a few years. Grief left unchecked can sap the will to live. Indeed, I almost joined him within the first year.

I came to terms with these losses, each so individual and affecting me on various levels. God had me here for a purpose. My life belonged to Him, and I would move forward until my earthly sojourn completed its course.

Writers and Readers: How have fictional stories affected your view of death and dying? Have you found comfort in the midst of pain? Please share.

Photo credit: Vincitrice


Jean Fischer said...

Great post, Susan. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Blessings! Jean

Karen Lange said...

I agree, the grieving process is a little different with each lost loved one. My mother's death was expected, and even though we'd "lost" her to Alzheimer's years before, it still hurt. I miss her still in so many ways. My sister's death was somewhat unexpected, and that loss has taken on another dimension. I still experience a sharp pain when I remember that she's gone, even after three years. I wonder if it's due in part to having trouble processing it because she was more my age. One of my other sisters and I have discussed how to process it all, and of course, ultimately lay it all in God's hands.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan - I can hear your thoughts through these various desperate occasions ...

I have got through .. how I'm not sure .. well for my mother and my uncle in recent years ... their time had come - but the suddenness of death I did deal with somehow ... and it's a long time ago ...

I've found blogging helpful in so many ways and the books that have over the years been recommended helpful too - some I still need to read .. so I'm assimilating life, I guess .. and I do still think things through.

A friend who lost her father at the Nursing Centre, where my mother and uncle were and both left their world from .. says she didn't imagine how much she'd learn from the time she had being a part of such a facility, and the hospice and care in the home ... I agree ...

It's an interesting time .. but losing a husband is another matter ...

With thoughts - Hilary

quietspirit said...

Susan: We all grieve at the loss of friends. We had a lady at church pass away yesterday. Two of us visited her at the hospital on Friday. Her daughter-in-law told us that if the lady didn't get better in a couple of days, the sons had to make a decision.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a book on the process. Granger Wesberg wrote a book on the stages of grief.(entitled: Good Grief.)

One thing I learned is that we grieve in proportion to the amount we love.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

I'm so sorry for your losses, Susan. Thank you for sharing how the Lord has shaped and changed you through each of these trials.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean - I want to take every experience in life and use it to help someone else.

Hi Karen - My friend was like a sister to me, and we were close in age. I think that does make a difference in processing her sudden death.

Hi Hilary - A dear minister friend once said, "When you've got problems and are hurting, go help someone else." It's been wise advice that I've never forgotten. You bring much joy and connection to others like Lenny.

Hi Quiet Spirit - I connected with your last line. "One thing I've learned is that we grieve in proportion to the amount we love."

Hi Ruth - Thank you. I'm glad God doesn't waste any sorrow we go through.


Rhonda Schrock said...

Goodness, Susan. I'm sorry for the loss of your best friend. I have a feeling that you will get much good from it, in your writing, in your dealings with others, and just in your relationship with the Lord. Bless you, friend.

JD said...

I'm sorry for your losses. Thank you for sharing this and reminding us that our lives are in His hands. The people who passed away were blessings in your life, and I'm glad you made such fond memories with them.