"Grace In Loss"
I was truly overwhelmed by the show of support when my mother died. I recognize once again that Christians truly are caring people.
Many of you said that you haven't faced the death of a parent yet. But, you still understand the feeling of loss and grief because of other people who have gone out of your lives. Someone else's death is something that you never can prepare to face. You face it when it happens and that is when God gives His grace to face it.
The notes I received triggered so many thoughts and I want to share some of the comments with you in the hope that it will help you face your own struggles.
"My mom went to Heaven when I was 37 years old (I'm 72 now) and the thing I missed most was her prayers for me." A praying mother is something that can't be replaced. Who will pray faithfully for us when there is no earthly mom (or dad) to pray? I thought about that too as I faced my mom's death. For anyone who is looking for a way to minister, please don't forget praying. It is a win-win situation, where you get a blessing when you talk with the Lord and the person you pray for gets the blessing of your prayers and God's answers.
Many people also have lost parents to Alzheimer's disease before their physical death. I call it a living death. The body moves but the real person has already died. It is as agonizing to watch this long death as to watch someone die from cancer.
"My dad had Alzheimer's and at the end didn't know any of us. I have not admitted this to many people, but it was a blessing when he want home to be with the Lord. It was like I felt the weight of the world lifted off of my shoulders." Yes, I can identify with this. When I got the call that Mom had died, my initial response was, "I'm so glad." There was a feeling of relief. I wasn't glad to have my mom die, but the wait was over and she was once again happy and whole and in a safe place. For those who felt relief at a parent's death, let go of the guilt. There's no reason for it.
"When my mother no longer knew me the emotional pain was terrible." To those who struggle with this kind of pain, remember that a loving parent would not knowingly hurt you like this. Not recognizing a child is truly not intentional and through no fault of theirs.
Another reader wrote, "I lost my mom 15 years ago to Alzheimer's. She will be 93 if the Lord allows her to live until October. I just cry sometimes knowing I can't communicate with her. I just wonder what is behind those eyes that rarely focus on me. Is she aware I'm there? Is her mind ever alert to the surroundings, but just can't tell us? Is she miserable laying in bed 24 hours a day 365 days a year? And most of all, does God communicate with her and let her know He loves her and does He ever hold her in His arms? I always ask Him to do so. It is so hard watching her and waiting and wondering when she will be taken. At times I have asked God to take her because of the life – or lack of it – that she has to endure." I can't add to this except to say that God always has His reasons for life and death. Knowing our loving God, I can't imagine that He just ignores people who have loved Him for years. I can't imagine that he would judge us — or love us — because of the clarity of our minds. After all, physical bodies suffer from Alzheimer's disease. The soul does not.
"Shelia, your words touched my heart in a most tender spot. You described perfectly my own mother's condition the last year of her life. But it never occurred to me until just now that her untypical hostility toward me was because she really did not know who I was. For 21 years I have harbored the (Satan-originated) thought that she was angry at me for putting her in a nursing home. I am replacing that lie with the more likely truth that my sweet 77-year-old mother just did not know me, could not trust me. The tears I'm shedding are for the hurt and guilt I've harbored and fed for 21 years. Thank you for showing me a better way."
May I reassure this writer and the many of you who wrote in a similar way. Your parent is not trying to get even for something. They are simply trying to find their way in a world that has become unfamiliar.
Thanks again for sharing with me — so I can share with you. God truly does give strength for each day, both to those who die and to those who are left behind.
Comments on this? firstname.lastname@example.org .