Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dec 7 - Luke 7:13-15

Recently a parent wrote, asking about how to speak to their children about grandma's illness and impending death. Over the next several days, I'm letting you "listen in" to my pastoral advice. So far we have covered the following pieces of advice: 1. Be Honest and Upfront,  2. Focus Forward,  3. Grieve Honestly, 4. Grieve with Bold Determination, 5. Understand Life, 6. Quit Denying, 7. Praying Works, 8. Time Heals Wounds, 9. Be Thankful
When the Lord saw [the grieving mother],
his heart overflowed with compassion.
"Do not weep!" he said.
Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and ...
the dead boy sat up and began to talk to those around him!
And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Luke 7:13-15


If you haven't heard it before, here's my favorite image for grief: 
Grief is a hole in the soul.
Imagine the shock of a loss. What happens to our heart as we begin to grieve?
  • For the first month, every time we approach the hole of grief, we're going to fall in.
  • Around this hole is freshly dug dirt. It is loose. It is unstable -- and so are we. Therefore, as we learn to walk a path around this hole, we're going to slip on the loose dirt and keep falling in.   
  • Gradually, however, we going to trample down that loose dirt and make a path around that hole. We'll still fall in, but not as frequently.
  • One day, we'll look up at the end of the day, and realize we haven't fallen in. And the first time we do it, we'll feel so guilty about not remember the reason for the hole -- our loved one who died -- that we'll promptly throw ourselves in.
  • Generally it will take about a year (or two) to learn to walk a path around the big holes that represents our parent, our child, or our spouse (and less for smaller holes that represent acquaintances and friends).
  • Even after we've learned to walk a path around these holes, we'll still occasionally fall in. Let me give you an example: By the time I was a teenager, one of my grandfathers had been dead for thirty years. I remember, however, sitting at supper with my grandmother, she was reminiscing about the good old days, when suddenly she fell again into the hole of my grandfather's death. It was thirty years later and the hole of that grief still had gravity.
  • Generally, however -- and my grandmother was like this 99% of time -- we get to the point where we look back at the hole in our hearts and give thanks. My grandmother still missed a grandfather I never knew, but 99% of time she was thankful for his life, for his love, for his and her sons together!
  • Time brought perspective.
  • Time brought healing. 
  • Time brought thanksgiving.
My grandmother was never thankful that my grandfather died, of course, but she was very thankful that he had lived! She was also very thankful that we was living again. She was indeed very thankful that she could be with him forever.
Grief hurts. Hope heals.
Thanks for journeying with me -- and a family that's losing a grandmother -- for these last several days.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who gives thanks for the hole
that was the cross and crucifixion.
Because of that and another hole
(the opening of the Easter tomb)
I'm not afraid of holes

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