By Nancy Burall
“Just four weeks ago, Nancy.” My cousin Pattie wiped tears away. “He was just diagnosed with cancer four weeks ago. And now Bob’s gone.” We were seated at their dining table. “Tomorrow would have been his sixty-sixth birthday. Monday is my sixtieth birthday. I can’t believe his funeral is today.”
A few weeks later, Pattie shared her heartache in view of the “firsts” she would be facing in the remaining months of the year.
Their anniversary spent alone, one month after Bob’s passing; the pain of a vanished celebration of their love. “The nights are the worst.” She set down her coffee cup. “The empty place where he should be is almost too painful to endure.”
“Thanksgiving will be okay, because we celebrate it at Mother’s. My sisters, Jackie and Linda, and their grown kids will be gathering around Mother and Daddy’s table for the meal.” Pattie smiled at the thought of the traditions her family shares. “After the meal, there are the football games on T.V. and the pool table tournaments in their game room.”
Pattie took a drink of her coffee to rid the lump in her throat. “Christmas will be the hardest.” Tears glistened in her beautiful blue eyes.
“We have Christmas here.” She pointed in the direction of the far corner of her living room. “The tree goes there in the corner. Then we pile the presents all the way to here.” She swept with her hand to show me how wide the path of joy will be.
“Mother and Daddy come down and add to the presents that our grown kids brings.” She chuckled a little. “It was fun watching our boys grow up around the tree. Oh, but having the grandkids around is double joy. We share in cooking yummy treats and the Christmas meal. The house is full of laughter and love.”
Suddenly, Pattie’s sweet smile faded. She looked at me, “Bob’s not going to be here.”
How do you handle the normal rejoicing times after a loss?
Do you get drunk to numb the pain? Or as some people, do you look to “company” to ease the pain. To avoid feeling the pain, do you just shut down emotionally?
Did you know that we’re not meant to shut down? We’re meant to feel all of the pain of losing loved ones. We’re meant to feel alive.
God created us in His image. And in His image, we feel love. When we lose a loved one, our Father in heaven gives us a glimpse into how He feels towards us when we turn away from Him.
So how do we rejoice when we feel like crying? We cry and allow ourselves to feel the pain. By allowing ourselves to feel the pain, we heal from it.
Then, we learn we can smile through the tears while we heal from the pain.
“What will get me through the usual times of celebrations without Bob; I know I can count on the Lord to give me strength and peace. I read this verse everyday”:
19 Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries us day by day, even the God Who is our salvation! Selah [pause, and calmly think of that] Psalm 68:19 (Amplified Bible)
“I know it will be hard, but I trust in the Lord. Jesus gives me the strength to rejoice while I’m grieving.”