When grief strikes, remember God is there
On the trapeze without a safety net, I am submitting this column for publication without my mom's critique. She's been my personal editor, but now she's in the glory of heaven. I'm an orphan, left to recall as best as possible her advice: Be clear. Be open. Don't preach.
God is faithful. My mom, Mrs. Janssen, went to heaven at age 81. She was at home. That was an answer to her prayers. I assume she also petitioned God to take care of her children. He's been faithful to answer that prayer too.
I've been on a personal journey of grief for 10 months. I am not asking for sympathy or condolences. My purpose is to share with you God's goodness. He has not left my side.
In the beginning, I woke up every morning to the jab, "Mom's dead. Mom died." I asked myself, "How could that be? She's always been around." I wondered how long it would take before I believed it. It seemed as if I was in a canyon. A big empty space defined only by steep walls, making exit impossible. I felt trapped. I hurt. I could do nothing about it.
I tried to get out of the canyon. My heart was no help. Sorrow hit me with a thud and my eyes dripped tears. My mind wrestled with the question, "What is death?" I couldn't grasp it. Death is an event. My mom walked through the door which opened for her. It slammed in my face. I called on my faith, reminding myself that she is in heaven. I was glad for her and sad for me.
I went to sleep at night clutching a little stuffed doggie — my mom's hospital and bedtime companion. When I was holding him, I felt closer to her. I would visit my hurt and cry myself to sleep. After two months of this, enough! God said, "Stop clutching your misery to yourself." Even though I questioned the correctness of my ever feeling better, God was right. I was habitually wallowing in my pain. I put the doggie away.
My experience is of God's shepherding care. Not only does he provide guardrails but he comforts me. Something caught me the other day, reminding me mom is no longer available for my phone calls. I understood God to say, "Yes. She's no longer with you. I am your parent." God watches over us. He answered my need the moment I had it. He understood my feeling of abandonment. He answered with his presence.
We know we will see them again, our loved ones who have died in Jesus' arms. My mom and I are going to dance together when I get to heaven. She's gone, but she still lives. I miss her, but I'm not overwhelmed anymore. I can't go be with my mom now because God's plans and purposes for me have not yet been fulfilled. He holds the order of our days in his hands. And in those instances when I want something to soothe the ache, I say, "Praise you, Jesus." He is my resting place.