Its 2 am and I can’t sleep so I decided to write. My mind keeps going back to one year ago today, the day I got the call. My mother was frantic and told me I needed to get to her house. My heart sank, I knew something was seriously wrong and I knew it was about my dad. On the way, I called Jeff and asked him to meet me there. I then began to pray, scream, and cry out to God for His mercy. I had felt an emptiness that I had never felt before, deep down I knew he was gone. I pulled up to my parents condo, and the ambulance was outside. My brother and husband could barely look at me, my mom came downstairs and told me to come inside. I ran into the apartment and said, “let me see my daddy.” My mother simply said, “he’s gone.” What came after that was a blur. I could not see through my own tears, I could not hear through my own screams. It felt like I was having an outer body experience. “He can’t be gone!” The week prior my dad had spent the night in our new home as we celebrated my mom’s birthday. Just two days prior to that, we had spent time in church together. I remember asking my dad, “Do you want to go to brunch?” He politely declined. My dad was exhausted. He had COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD ) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. It was a huge blessing that he had even come out of the house to go to church. Over the years the COPD had gotten worse and my father carried oxygen. He would often be out of breath and too tired to hang out like he used too. It was difficult to witness. This used to be my rollercoaster partner in every amusement park, and he was once full of energy. In addition to that, my father battled PTSD and drug addiction most of his life. My dad was a Vietnam veteran and participated in things that caused him great pain. I truly believe that was a big contributor to his drug usage. He did not know how to numb the pain and so he resorted to a temporary out, and that was getting high. I used to walk in total unforgiveness towards my dad. After the Lord relentlessly pursued me and saved me, He walked me through a journey of forgiveness. He helped me to see my dad in all of his brokenness and I began to have compassion for him. Besides, by God’s grace I was saved and delivered from my sins so how dare I not think he wasn’t worthy of my forgiveness?
Colossians 3:13- …bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (ESV)
Today I am grateful for that ability to forgive my dad. Years prior to this death, I was prompted to create memories with him. Deep down I knew his time was short and I’m grateful the Lord prepared me. I would pray and ask God, “Please just allow him to live long enough to meet a future grandchild.” He only lived long enough to find out he was having a grandchild when my brother announced it during my mom’s birthday dinner last year. Although, this prayer wasn’t answered the major prayer we prayed over my dad was answered. The Lord did not take my dad until He had saved his soul. We have no doubt now that we will see my father again. What he did in his heart the last few months of his life is incredible. My father was loving, compassionate and desired to be in church learning about God. I remember in the last few months of my dad’s life seeing him come up at our church for prayer. I always wondered what he prayed, but it brought me comfort that the Lord was drawing him to Himself. As a matter of fact that last movie he watched was “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. He insisted that my brother and wife watch it with him. So although my dad will never meet a grandchild on this side of heaven, I know for sure we will all be reunited one day.
Fast forward to today. One year after our lives changed and my father transitioned. Cue Marvin Sapp’s, “Never Would have Made it!” Because its only God that has gotten us through. This was by far the greatest heartache I have ever experienced and I can’t believe I’m surviving it. There are a few things I have learned about grief this past year and I want to share my truth. Some of these you may or may not agree with, but again this is MY truth. I pray it helps someone grieving a death of a loved one in their lives.
1. Time does not heal all wounds. God does.
Psalm 34:18- The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
I don’t know where I would be without my faith in God and the anticipation of eternity. This anticipation of eternity with Jesus has given me great comfort, because I know I will see my dad again. He was a believer and was no longer scared of death because he knew where he was going. Eternity is forever, and the spirit realm is more real than what we experience today within our natural bodies. After my father passed, I became obsessed with studying heaven. It brought me comfort because it allowed me to wonder what my father maybe experiencing or seeing right now. I look forward to the day when we meet again as brothers and sisters in Christ worshipping at the throne. He’s probably so popular already in heaven. LOL My dad was such an extrovert and a people person.
2. You can’t rush grief. Everyone’s timeline is different for how they process things. There are 7 stages of grief. Go through them, and get professional counseling if there are times where you can’t seem to shake it. Don’t allow grief to take you to a dangerous place of depression. It’s ok, and as a matter of fact recommended that you seek counseling after such a devastating change in your life.
3. Unless you lost a parent or a child you don’t know how that person feels. Grief is an emotion many have experienced, but its levels to it. There is nothing compared to the loss of an immediate family member. It affects you and changes you in a way that you can’t relate too unless you have experienced it. So instead of making the statement, “I know how you feel because you once lost your pet fish” just show up and be there.”
4. Celebrate their lives with loved ones. Today I plan on being with my family and celebrating the life of my dad. I don’t plan on sitting at home and crying the day away. I am actually surprised at how much peace I have in this moment. Also to make the holidays or the anniversary of his passing easier, we celebrate by doing something he loved or eating one of his favorite foods. Maybe today we will go and have some Key Lime Pie, and listen to some of his favorite songs. We will reminisce and laugh and cry if we need too. Although, we usually end up doing more laughing because we focus on the funny memories we all have.