The Experience of Heartache
The most common symptom of grief is shocked. It can take a long time to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. This can take a few days and even a few weeks. It took me a few days to accept what had happened. For some reason for the first few days, I thought my mother’s death was not real and was part of some vile prank by the doctors. I felt numb and could not understand the situation I was in. I was with my mother the day before she died and she seemed in good spirits and apart from looking a little weak and tired she appeared to be well. I was hopeful that she would fight off COVID and the cancer treatment was working. I had a great shock at 5 am the following day when the doctor phoned to tell me that mum has taken a turn for the worse and I needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible.
This sudden turn of events is what is most hard to cope with when a loved one dies. One day they seem to be fine and the next moment the situation is very different indeed. When the reality of grief set in I felt physical pain and hurt. The deep distress was at times too much to bear. Soon a profound depression clouded my whole body. There were days I would stay in bed almost all day and had no desire to do anything. No motivation at all was common for a few weeks. We had a long wait from January 20th (the day of my mother’s death) until the day of the funeral which took place on February 9th. Those 19 days felt like an eternity. This is why I would advise you to stay close to the Lord and fellow believers. The days leading up to the funeral can be very hard to deal with.
The whole experience of grief is very stressful and taking care of yourself can be a daily battle. In my case, the mental and emotional strain felt like a tight elastic band around my head. The process of grief affects people in different ways. For those who have been caring for a loved one for a long time, a sense of relief is common. For those who lose a loved one very quickly, the shock will be there for a while, but when the reality sets in the facts can be hard to accept and cope with.
One emotion I felt was anger. I was deeply infuriated that the doctors could not do any more to help my mother. I also felt anger towards God for allowing her to become so ill and taking her from me. This feeling lasted a few days. By God’s grace, I repented of my wrath and started to realise that God knows all things and that all things work together for good. God is in complete control. I do not make any excuses nor do I justify my sin of anger towards God. Having said that it is common to feel anger when a loved one dies. This can manifest itself in different ways, but if not dealt with soon it can turn to bitterness and will destroy your witness and faith. The devil will use this feeling to tempt you to turn away from God and to reject the things of God. I was reminded of the story of Job. The Lord allowed everything to be taken from Job, yet he remained faithful to the end. Even though his family, wealth and health were taken from him Job continued to trust in the goodness of God.
Another aspect of grief is that first time back to the church building after the funeral. My mother’s funeral took place in the same church we both attended. All I could see at the foot of the pulpit was my mother’s coffin. This was very distressing for me. I could not focus on the sermon and tried to look anywhere, but that place where my mother’s coffin was just a few weeks ago. This will happen in other places you go to after the funeral. Returning to a favourite place or anywhere that you have been to with a loved one can bring back memories. Some memories will bring you comfort and peace as you recall a happy memory. Some memories will be painful as you feel loose more.
God’s way is always best, even if we do not fully understand what is happening. We may not like the situation we find ourselves in, but there is a reason for why things happen. In the case of my mother, it is possible that the Lord saved her from suffering and pain in weeks to come. It is also possible that the Lord used my mother’s faith and lack of fear as a powerful witness to the staff at the hospital. I believe this is very likely as during her treatment I had many conversations with the nurses and doctors about mum. They were surprised by her acceptance of whatever came her way. The fact that she was undergoing cancer treatment did not dampen her upbeat personality and sense of humour. The doctors asked me if she knew how sick she was because there was no fear at all showed in her attitude. I told them that my mother is under no illusion of how serious her condition is and that it is the Lord Jesus Christ that keeps her from fear. No one dies too soon or too young. God’s will must be done. That can be a hard fact to accept, but the reality is God’s ways are higher than ours and his thoughts are not clouded by sin like our thoughts are.
Grief is still a new experience for me. My mother has only been gone for just over 6 months. So the grieving process is still going on. Many say that time is a great healer, but I am not sure about that. Speaking to people who have lost a loved one many years ago I learnt the feeling of loss in some cases is just as raw as the first few days. Remember to cast all your burdens and cares on the Lord.