Recently, a dear friend died—very suddenly, completely unexpectedly. Only days before, we had rambled through her flower beds, rich in lush color, while we enjoyed the sounds of life on her farm – birds chirping, horses running, donkeys braying, tractors chugging, and, of course, her warm laughter, which still echoes in my ears. “We are truly blessed in this season of our lives,” we reminded each other. And then we charted our next adventure together.
Except for “Goodbye,” those were our last words.
This new loss immediately catapulted me back to my last moments with my husband, who died more than eleven years ago. Once grief has been a companion, it never leaves. Those of us left behind find ourselves journeying through seasons of grief as dramatic as the four seasons on my Michigan farm.
My husband was diagnosed with brain cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme, caused by exposure to chemicals during his Vietnam-era military service. He lived seven-and-a-half years following his diagnosis, and his last sixteen months were spent at home in Hospice care. Realizing our journey together was about to change, we clung to each other with trust, not only in each other, but in God’s design for our lives.
God allowed me to hold Roy in my arms and He gave me the words that needed to be said, as well as the grace to let him go. I’ve never written them before, but they comfort me when I recall his final hours, as his heart raced and his breathing slowed:
Babe, you are in the race of a lifetime. I see the finish line. When you cross over, you will be picked up with all the other victors. Your race will be won. You will turn and then begin to cheer me on because I will be right behind you. God has promised that. As the mist rises on our pond, and the birds begin to sing, I see one lone star in the sky…God will honor my wish. It will be okay for both of us. This I know! You will be with me everywhere. In every flower I plant, in the fragrance of each blossom, every snowflake that falls, and each wind that blows. You have left your mark, and it is good.
Throughout Roy’s health struggles, we reminded ourselves of scripture passages that provided healing to our souls, starting with “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).”
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).”
And for those of us who live on farms, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 has special meaning: “For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
So, when we enter a time of grief, we need to remind ourselves of the promise in Psalm 55:22: “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”
Grieving over the death of someone we love, sudden or lingering, is a painful, heart-wrenching, sleep-depriving, ever-present emotion. I’ve found that journaling helps me during my times of grief.
I slowly found a new rhythm for my life as I began to listen to and learn from my grief through journaling. I’ve discovered I can survive my loss and help others on their grief journey.
I created a free downloadable JOY JOURNAL to offer support, encouragement, and insight into the way I coped and came to terms with tragic and unexpected losses and the new challenges they brought. The Joy Journal will guide you through the practices that helped me through my grief. Click here for your free download. I pray it will bring you peace of mind and heart as you journey through grief to find joy again!