Almost three years ago, our family experienced the joys of watching our oldest daughter get married while sorrowing that my father in law was dying of cancer. To be sure, this was a summer of extreme highs/lows…below is how I recall those final precious days with my father in law.
“Sorrow can go only as deep as love. And always, always, love is the ground beneath sorrow as well as the sky above it.” Gregory Floyd in A Grief Unveiled
Life is fragile and I can prove it. During the past few weeks, two distinctively unique experiences invaded my “life is frail” consciousness. All this by way of a car crash and a relative’s terminal illness. In the space of a few hours, I witnessed two cars smash headlong into each other like two tin cans being crushed under a malevolent foot. My heart stopped. My stomach lurched. Amazingly, no one was badly injured. Thankfully, these families and all who love them were spared the sudden finality of death. Fast forward to a brief, but soulful conversation with my father-in-law about the day’s activities: getting dressed, getting down food and medicine, getting ready for radiation treatment, getting back home for hospice nurse visit, getting down more food and medicine. Getting tired, getting ready for bed and getting a good night’s sleep.
Seems his days are all about getting ready. But in reality, he’s already, ready. He is; he’s farther along in this journey of life than we are and he knows it. He’s accepted it and he wants us to accept it too. Since we’re all going to die, this isn’t a news-breaking revelation. And still, I wonder if any of us is prepared to lose someone we love?
For our family, we’ve been “given notice” so to speak. Someone we love dearly isn’t going to recover, is likely to suffer, and we can’t fix it. When we first received the news, we were still grieving over the loss of two other family members who’d recently passed away. This newest blow hurt us deeply. Stunned us. Blind-sided us. And set us scurrying to make sense of yet another personal loss of life. This news caused an ache so real we felt it physically.
Then time stepped in. And faith. We slowly wrapped our minds around the truth and our emotions started to catch up with the hard facts. It still ached and our tears spilled over at inopportune moments, embarrassing us and others who helplessly looked on.
Then we turned another corner. We accepted it. In tiny, halting baby steps, we slowly began to see this “advance notice” as a blessed gift to spend time together. To talk. Laugh. Pray. Eat. Reflect. Just be together enjoying the simplest of life’s pleasures means everything now. It is a good day to be alive.
Then we began to see, really “see.” What’s important. What’s not. What lasts. What won’t. And those things that fall into the “what won’t last” are what we spend the bulk of our days chasing. Money. Careers. Achievement. Possessions. More money. Just stuff, really. Insignificant. Fleeting. Distractions. Not worth a single cent in eternity. Not one. Only God and people are forever. That’s it, that’s the end of the story.
Or not? Conversations are turning more and more to the life after this one, and we’ve discovered in the midst of the emotional pain that a sure and certain hope is a wonderful thing. And it’s real. Substantial. Peace-inviting, anxiety-nixing gift straight from the hand of God. Selah….peace. From the inside out, may you find it today.
Takeaway Action Thought: It is not selfish to take care of you in the midst of sorrowful situations, it is necessary and it is smart.
Weight Bearing Exercises
During those seasons of loss and sorrow, one of the first things relegated to the bottom of a woman’s to-do list is self-care. While life and its accompanying emotional pain presses in on her…a woman frequently forfeits one of her strongest coping commodities, her physical and emotional well being by simple neglect. Women, as the givers of care, must be proactive in daily self-care in order to most effectively cope and deal with the many layers of grief that come part and parcel with sorrow and loss.
COURAGE – Facing facts and doing something about them. When sorrows tally up, women need to harness and guard their emotional strength by reminding themselves of the following.
· Balance work, home, and relaxation; don’t take on new responsibilities during this time.
· Talk with trusted friends about what you’re feeling; as you do, you’ll find the weight of sorrow is shared as it is distributed some amongst people who care.
· Understand your limitations; listen to what others are observing in you and heed their counsel.
STRENGTH – Making sure you’re fit for what’s coming. When sorrow makes its presence known day after day, women need to build up and maintain their physical strength.
· Exercise daily; set (and maintain) your routine of getting a minimum of 20 minutes/3 times per week.
· Get enough sleep; factor in 7 – 8 hours of nighttime rest every night.
· Take vitamin supplements daily and eat for optimal health to offset the extra emotional pressures.
FEARLESSNESS – Moving forward even when the outcome is uncertain. When the worst is over, women need to decide what they believe, why they believe, and how their beliefs will equip them to face the future, here they develop their spiritual strength.
· Revisit and re-evaluate former belief systems; ask yourself how what you say you believe about life/death/suffering makes a difference?
· What did you learn about yourself and about how you handle loss and sorrow?
· Contemplate tomorrow in the aftermath of today’s painful circumstance. What can you do to be better prepared for future challenges?
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56: 8