A Dying Grief

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.

These are the beginning of comforting words to the living in Thessalonica about their deceased family member and friends. The Apostle reminds them that the living believers have hope because the believers who “are asleep” are with Jesus and will be reunited with their bodies and all believers, living and dead will be together with the Lord. He reminds them to comfort each other with these words (v:18).

Those believers who have passed from this world are with Christ in peace and comfort. We, the living can take solace in this and encourage one another. Often we may hear sermons on why we need not be afraid of death as believers, and that is certainly true. But, there is something I don’t think I have ever heard anyone teach on. Joy (my wife) and I saw it in my mother this past weekend.

As many of you know, my mother is dying of cancer. She has always been a woman with a strong will who raised six kids by herself. She often worked 2 jobs to make ends meet and although we were never wealthy I think I can honestly say we never lacked anything we actually needed while growing up. In addition to food, clothes and a roof over our heads, she provided the one thing that we truly needed. We always felt safe. She loved us and we were safe in her love. She was loyal and we were safe that she would never betray us. I have never really seen her afraid of much. I am sure she was at times. After all, she was a woman, alone, with six kids to care for and provide for and that had to be a daunting task.

My mother is a believer. Joy and I have the joy of leading her to Christ quite a few years ago. She knows where she is going once she departs this life and after being diagnosed with cancer was not shaken as to her eternal future. She has spent a fair amount of time making her own final arrangements planning her funeral and working through how her material stuff should be handled. There has never been a fear of dying.

Joy and I along with our daughter, Jennifer, went to see her this past weekend (she lives about 6 hours away). Her condition has deteriorated quickly this past week. Even so, her sense of humor remained. She laughed as we, particularly Joy, regaled her with stories of our travels. At one point when Joy was picking on her she jokingly asked my daughter, Jennifer, “Why is she being so mean to me?” Jennifer told her Joy was trying to get even with her for all the mean things she had done to Joy over the years. Without missing a beat she responded, “You mother could not possibly live long enough to get even with me.” There were belly laughs all around.

As we were leaving the tears began to flow. My mother was in grief. The grief that comes with the realization that you may not see someone you love dearly for a very long time. It isn’t fear, for she knows where she is going and that we will be joining her, but it is the process of letting go for now. We are beginning the process of grieving now which will heighten once she passes from this life to the next and we mostly focus on the grief of those who will remain behind. As we left, she cried as the thought took full hold that she may not see us again before she takes her final breath and then for a long time after that moment. There is a kind of grief that the dying go through. It happens on this side of death and is finalized in joy as they come face to face with the Lord. It isn’t something I have thought about before and will change the way I try to minister to the dying in the future. I am not sure in what way but I know I will see them differently. It is yet another lesson learned from my mother.


A Dying Grief — 4 Comments

  1. Knowing you as I do Don, if your mother is anything like you, she truly must have been an incredible blessing to her family!

    I’ve often thought about how the fear of the unknown has vanquished as I was born again. Now, I look forward to meeting my Lord (not being morbid). I believe that is the peace that exceeds all understanding.

    Blessings in HIS name!

  2. Don and Joy,
    I know your feelings all too well as Robin and I walked my mother to heaven’s door 6 years ago. Still fresh in our minds were the last times we shared with her. I wrote a song to her as a tribute and was able to play it for her before she past . I recorded a demo -acoustic version and I would be glad to share the song with you – Below is the lyrics. Robin and I will continue to lift you and your family up i our prayers.
    We love you and thank God for you in our lives!!
    In Him

    “Heaven’s Door” by Jerry Simandl

    I want you to always remember
    As years and years have gone by
    That I know you’ve always loved us
    and I know you’ve always tried
    to give us a life that prospers
    to give us a life that true
    of faith and hope and happiness
    and for all these things I must thank you

    And I’ll walk with you
    To Heaven’s Door
    And I’ll hold your hand
    and I won’t let go

    I want you to always remember
    that I have no regrets
    of the life that you gave me
    and lessons I’ll never forget
    I’ll pass them on to my daughters
    I’ll pass them on to the rest
    of the people that God brings to me
    for these I am truly blessed

    And I’ll walk with you
    To Heaven’s Door
    And I’ll hold your hand
    and I won’t let go

    There’s no more pain
    no regret
    there’s nothing to fear
    in Heaven’s rest

    And I’ll walk with you
    To Heaven’s Door
    And I’ll hold your hand
    and I won’t let go
    And I’ll see you again
    at Heaven’s door
    When He says come in
    I will see you and miss you no more.

  3. Hi Don,

    What a touching and warm article. I only trusted Christ about 6 1/2 years ago but was able to lead my mom to Christ 6 months before she died. When they called me to the hospital her last day because she wasn’t doing well while I was driving I “knew” she had passed and “heard” her say to me “Thank you so much for telling me to trust Christ-wait until you get here. You won’t believe how beautiful it is!” The knowledge she was in heaven made her wake & funeral so much easier for me.
    On another matter a JW called in during our WGN broadcast a week ago and I was able to actually lead her to The Lord! Probably surprised me more then her 🙂

  4. My heart goes out to you and your family in the passing of your mom! It’s wonderful to know and have the utmost assurance that she is now rejoicing in the joy of our Lord Jesus, along with so many that have gone before! I’m pretty sure my grandmother and her are getting to know each other very well, but most importantly, at the feet of the Savior!!! : )

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