Grieving Death, Celebrating Life

Note: I wrote this nearly a week ago, on June 24.  Finally, after a busy week, I am getting around to posting.

Right now I am flying north to Columbus, Ohio, to attend my grandmother’s funeral.

She was 99.

After years of deteriorating health she finally left her difficulties behind and went to be with the Lord.

I have mixed feelings.

On one hand I am grateful that she was able to go.  Her existence had less and less dignity, although her daughter and son-in-law cared for her in the most beautiful and respectable way possible.  It’s just that your dignity walks out the door hand-in-hand with your ability to wash yourself and tend to your own basic needs.

On the other hand I will miss her.

I will miss her as a connection to my greater family tree and history.  I will miss the woman who graciously allowed me to live with her while I was Rosedale Bible College.  I will miss the woman my mom often describes as generous, selfless, and a blessing to others.

I will miss the woman who teased me about thinking “girls don’t like me.”  To this day I don’t remember when I said that, but back in the mid-90s she remembered, and she called me on it.  And she had a funny smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.

I will miss the grandma who liked to haul the ice cream bucket out of the freezer and take a few bites.

I haven’t seen her for perhaps as many as 7 years, but when I heard she had died I felt deep and instant grief.  Perhaps I will understand why sometime.  For now, I am immensely grateful to fly northward and celebrate and grieve with my family.

And every time I pull out the blankets and quilt that she sewed by hand for me and my family I will thank God for her.

Thank you, Grandma Miller, for a shining example of all that is good and loving, and for sharing your life with all of us.

Who in your family has inspired and encouraged you?

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ink

I forget where I first saw this line, but I find it so true:

Ink is cheap therapy.

I’m talking about writing, not tattoos.  I have no experience with the latter, and do not care to.  Writing, on the other hand, is a dear friend.  Sometimes I find that simply sitting down and writing helps my mind unkink itself.  Seeing your thoughts on paper somehow makes them more real, more permanent, more . . . kinetic.

Fears or dreams roaming in the mind do little more than upset mental furniture.  In order to produce change in the world these thoughts have to be released on the world as we know it.  Once they are released the laws of physics kick in: every action produces an equal and opposite reaction.

Once I wrote a thought down and I was immediately repulsed and embarrassed by it.  I could not blot it out fast enough.  Many other times I found peace spreading through my soul as I wrote out my thoughts and the words God seemed to be placing on my heart.  For better or for worse we speak things into existence when we write them.

Writing becomes even deeper therapy when we write what has hurt us, grieved us, saddened us.  I find peace as I acknowledge what I am feeling.  Over the past few years I have done hospital visits from time to time in my church work and I have found, as my dad explained to me once, that people just want to be heard.  Everyone wants to be validated, to know that their feelings matter and are not lost in the sea of humanity.  You do not need to agree with them, you simply need to validate their thoughts, feelings and opinions.

When no one is around to tell us our thoughts and feelings matter, writing is our way of telling ourselves your thoughts and feelings matter.  You are not crazy.  Acknowledging and validating feelings and thoughts and experiences allows us to move on and not be trapped by them.  Feelings such as fear, and memories of injuries and wrongs are poison, and if we do not rid our system of the poisons floating around in our bodies, we will not be able to live fully as God intended.  Fear, and Satan himself, only have a hold on us when we hide in secrecy.  His biggest fear is that we will bring things out into the light and see that we can indeed move on and find healing.

Ink is cheap therapy.  What do you need to write down so that you can move on?

eulogy

Recently both an uncle on my father’s side and a member of my church passed away.  Both are in a better place and released from bodies which were failing to house them well, as all of ours are bound to do at some time, whether we like it or not.  Nevertheless, respectful grief is due the loss of wonderful people, of which the world has too few.  Here are a few words in their honor.

Eulogy

A blushing moon mourns,
his face half shroud-
ed in starless
night,
whilst the ousted
light
coyly plots his
bright and avowed
resurrection morn.