Grief is unpredictable and I’m often surprised by the things that tip me into a sea of sorrow. So many thoughtful friends and family often check to see “how are you doing today?” I appreciate the addition of a concrete time frame. It’s far more manageable to express how I’m doing today than in general at any given moment. Some days are harder than others and some moments are more joy filled than others. I feel that the famous hymn “I need thee every hour “ would be more accurate if it admitted our need for Jesus every moment. Yesterday was our eldest daughter’s birthday. We received many messages of prayers and hopes that the day would be joyful, especially since it might be hard to have another big event in our family without Jane. To be honest, until I received most of the messages, I hadn’t considered that the day would be any harder. That’s probably because most days are especially hard right now.
Joy was palpable and grief was loyal. But grief doesn’t have to be negative.
The day was full of joy. We got to see some friends and family (from a distance) that we haven’t seen lately because of social isolation. We ate key lime pie and tacos at the request of the birthday girl. We spent hours outdoors enjoying beautiful weather. Of course, it is always a special time to celebrate the life of your child. Eight years with our eldest daughter! What a blessing and privilege it is to be her mom. She is the one that made me mommy first. She is loving, smart, kind and so easy to celebrate. Jane’s absence was felt, because it is always felt. Joy was palpable and grief was loyal. But grief doesn’t have to be negative.
Emma received cards from family friends and one of the cards had been made by one of Jane’s friends. The little boy and Jane were close in age and the card was the most beautiful bunch of scribbles. I saw it and the tears bubbled up almost immediately. We moved on to the next card before anyone noticed. In that moment, I missed Jane so terribly. I missed her presence, her laugh, her desire to help open gifts and her own sweet scribbles on hand made cards. At the same time, I was so thankful for the family and little friend who made the card. What a sweet gift.
Later in the day we were able to talk with one of my nephews. He was born exactly 12 days before Jane. I love our family. My nephew is a blessing to our family and many others. I love him dearly. Intermingled with being so grateful for his life and hearing the sweetness of his voice, I felt so sad that I would never hear Jane again. Her absence was glaring and painful in those moments. It was the definition of bittersweet.
Lord willing, my surviving children will grow and learn. Their friends and our family will do the same. I’ll see them meet milestones that Jane never will. I’ll see Jane’s friends start PreK, learn to tie shoes and lose their first teeth. One day they will drive, graduate high-school and get married. We will never take first day of school pictures with Jane again. We won’t teach her to ride a bike or teach her to do anything else for that matter. I won’t hand her the keys and watch as she drives away for the first time. We won’t order a cap and gown. Robert will never walk her down the aisle. She will bear no children that know me as grandmother.
Know this, Jane is not missing out. She is in the presence of our Savior. There is nothing this world could have offered her that is better than her current glory. We don’t grieve on Jane’s behalf. We grieve our own loss. We have profound joy and we have deep sorrow. It’s complex and it is hard. We also have a sure hope and a firm foundation. Jane is with Jesus. Jesus is also with us.
There is nothing this world could have offered her that is better than her current glory.
1 Thessalonians 5:10 says “He (Jesus) died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” The term awake or asleep here is referring to being physically alive or physically dead. I have this assurance, do you? Our situation is complex and hard, but I’m not ignorant or vain enough to think we are the only ones who have faced tragedy or will face hard times. We are hearing a lot of statistics lately, but the most accurate is that 100% of people will die at some point. Is Jesus with you? Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? You too can know this same hope that we have. The blessedness of knowing Jesus is not just for the sake of our fate in death. This hope is for the present too.
“He (Jesus) died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:10
We can’t rush our grief and I’m confident we won’t be fully healed this side of eternity. But when I say, I need Jesus Christ every moment, He is there. When I’m caught off guard by grief or when I’m filled with joy, Jesus is there. If you ask me how I’m doing at any given moment, I don’t know what I might say. I might be deeply and profoundly sad. I might feel ok and even content. However, no matter how I feel, it will always be well with my soul. When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul!”