How to Handle Grief for Deceased Love Ones Over the Holidays
My mom and best friend died, how will it ever really be ok?
We did not choose to let our mom's life slip out of her body, however, we understand that it is God who numbers each one of our days, and life and death are ultimately in His hands.
How do we survive the holidays? Christmas was our very favorite time of year as a family. My mom was the glue who held it all together.
Will it ever be ok again?
While waiting for bypass in the hospital, she was happy and cheerful, we had wonderful days together. We talked, laughed, solved world and family problems, and shared Starbucks decaf latte’s…each day she said in fact that it was the best Carmel macchiato she had ever had… I reminded her she had been fasting and everything tasted good, she said no, she was sure these were the best she had ever enjoyed.
Can I have just one of these days back with my mom?
Each day she would say, “maybe they will get a cancellation so that I can get into surgery and back home sooner.” I would remind her surgery was scheduled for five days after last taking blood thinners. She would agree, but again she would say, maybe if we keep praying they will move it up for me.
My mom had faith, even when I told her what the specialists had said about her surgery. She knew it was going to be sooner...what she didn't know was the outcome.
March 28th-The beginning of another great day with my mom. My 86 year old father gathered the strength to take the hour ride with me for a visit. Our pastor and a few other members of the family also visited that day. My mom & dad sat in the hospital bed together as though they were at home in their living room. My dad told my mom that he was keeping up the prayers they said together each night, praying for all of the children and grandchildren. My mom was so happy to have him with her.
If I could re-live this day, just one more time, I wouldn't leave my mom, not for one minute.
Our pastor talked with her, and prayed for her before he left. She was at complete peace, she was joyful and happy. My mom told our pastor that she knew she was going to be just fine, and if not, that was ok too because Jesus was already holding her hand.
Much later, we learned the pastor said to his wife upon returning home,
“Joanne will not be coming home to us, God has other plans.”
After her visitors left, we were visited by a very unique Chaplin…he was very tall, quite peaceful…an interesting man. We talked with him about his life experiences and suddenly my mom asked him if he would pray with us.
The Chaplin prayed the most beautiful and indescribable prayer … asking God to
“be with his friend Joanne and to give her peace on the rest of her journey.”
At the time, I recall thinking something was different, his words were poetic. It almost seemed as though I should have been worried, however I can only say there was peace.
I wonder if this was truly a Chaplin? Or was it an angel, or maybe Jesus Himself?
Shortly after the Chaplin left her room, my mom began having chest pains again. Although her chest pains were not uncommon, in my heart I knew it was something more serious than her usual pains.
Fully hoping for the chest pains to subside, this time they did not. Instead the cardiologist came into my mom’s room. He said he was taking her back to the cath lab to open up an artery and she would probably never need bypass surgery.
Little did we know what those words really were intended to mean.
I was asked to step out of the room as the staff got her ready. As they wheeled her quickly past me, my mom grabbed my hand and said “this is an answer to prayer! I am not going to have open heart surgery, I am going home!”
Things were happening very quickly, and I was concerned, but I said back to her,
“it is mom; it definitely is an answer to prayer.”
I knew it was the right thing to do, considering what was happening with her blockages and chest pain/vitals, but I quickly looked to the nurse and physician’s assistant who had been monitoring her before the cardiologist arrived.
Separately I asked each one to confirm this was the best thing for my mom…each of the woman confirmed that it was the right thing and the best thing…and that open heart surgery is so very difficult on elderly people. Each one confirmed the cardiologist was extremely capable and my mom was in good hands, which I knew, but it was a blessing to hear the confirmation.
What happened next, is that what could have been routine, was not.
The days ahead were some of the most difficult in my life. Complications after the cath lab, resuscitating my mom…seemed like only a nightmare at the time. Truly it was… a nightmare.
No matter how much I thought I was prepared, I was not prepared for what I would see in CICU. My mom was very sick… all I could do now was to be with her and pray for her. Despite my anguish, I couldn't help but feel it was my turn to sit with my mom, as she sat with me when I was a child.
There is not a doubt in my mind; I believe the doctor and medical staff did everything medical science equipped them to do. And although I would have given anything for my mom to live and not die, I still believe God answered our prayers. Giving my mom the ultimate miracle of peace. She was no doubt now in her eternal dwelling and home with the Lord.
As much as we prayed, it was not part of God’s plan for my mom to stay with us.
Life is now different, we move forward in faith believing we will see my mom again. Some days are more difficult than others… however I grieve but not like those who have no hope. John 3:16
My mom was confident she was in good hands; she was at peace right until the end of this life.
I have times of peace, I have times of deep sadness and despair. It seems the pain and the memories bring me closer to my mom.
The question, how do we make it through the special occasions and holidays when we are grieving? Will it ever really be OK?
The answers...keep moving forward, look to the future -- feel the pain and choose to keep moving. Life may never really be the same, it may never seem OK, but if we choose to put our faith in the creator of the universe, He will see us through.
While I may not have all of the answers, one thing I know for certain. God loved you and I so much that He sent His only son to die for us, whoever believes this will not perish but have eternal life.
My heart may ache and my days my be filled with pain, but I am choosing God, and hope, and I have faith I will see my mom again!
May you be blessed today with this revelation and may God give you peace and joy again, even in the midst of your sorrow.