I haven’t written this blog for a couple of weeks.
I’ve been gone.
It’s been a rainy season for me and my family.
“When it rains, it pours,” was a saying my Grandma would often use when things were piling up and we were feeling overwhelmed. You know, like when when the muffler falls off the car, then the hot water heater sprouts a leak and floods half the basement, and the door on the toaster oven breaks and you have to jamb a pencil in the latch to make it work because you just spent what money you had on getting the items needed to get your kids prepared for the new school year.
You know what I mean.
But those kinds of things aren’t life-changing. Frankly, they’re just plain annoying.
But what about when significant losses begin stacking up one on top of the other? That’s not just annoying. That’s overwhelming. Drowning or suffocating is more like it.
That’s been my summer so far.
My wife fell on April 29th, tearing all three hamstring muscles away from the bone on her right leg. Surgery was require to reattach them. Twelve weeks in a brace and no weight bearing, followed by 42 weeks of extensive physical therapy. Yep, that’s 54 weeks total recovery.
On May 13th my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died 3 weeks later on June 3 at 81 years of age. A shock to all of us since she seemed so healthy just 6 weeks prior to the diagnosis.
Then my dad began to fail. Alzheimer’s had been stealing his life away for the past 7 years. He didn’t know mom or any of us for most of the past 2-3 years. And in spite of the fact that we didn’t tell him about mom’s death, after 60 years of marriage, he somehow just seemed to know that his sole mate had gone home to heaven to await his arrival. And he didn’t waste much time. 8 weeks and one day later he arrived to greet her with a healed body and mind.
Yesterday I snapped at my 20-year-old daughter about something I thought she was negligent about. Her defenses shot up. We both felt the tension tighten. She called me on my “accusational” tone. She was right. And I knew it.
She asked me what was going on with me. I didn’t know, but soon I was reduced to tears. And I still didn’t know why.
Then it hit me: “I’ve got no emotional margins left. I’m depleted.Wrung out. Overloaded.” The losses have piled up around me. I just buried both of my parents within 2 months. My wife has begun a long road to recovery. And I feel buried emotionally.”
The journey through grief is a long one. Especially when it’s compounded by multiple losses. “Personal, painful loss forces a door open into the deep parts of our soul, exposing what which we’d just as soon not admit exists, let alone face”(p. 3). I believe that. I wrote that 20 years ago in a booklet on grief, How Can I Live With My Loss? Now I’m re-living it afresh.
Loss is as common as the air we breathe. But our journey through grief is unique to each of us. I’m on that journey. Maybe you are too. Let me reassure you with words from my Father that I find deeply encouraging and comforting in the middle of turmoil that is so disconcerting:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)
“. . . because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)
What’s reassuring for me is that I’m never alone on this messy journey of grief after a loss. And neither are you if you’ve put your hope in the God who raises the dead.
I’m sure there will be more to come as I process what God is doing in me because of these losses. For now, knowing He’s always with me is what keeps me going.