Dealing with grief is perhaps one of the hardest things that we, as humans, must do. Grief may be rooted in a death or illness, or it may be rooted in a loss, such as the loss of support, the loss of a spouse through divorce, the loss of a job, or even the feelings of abandonment that parents often go through as they realize they must allow their children to grow up. The focus of the upcoming 8 devotionals, that will be appearing in the next 8 Saturday editions of The Nugget, will be on how to deal with the grief. The first two devotionals focused on the grieving cycle, and these last eight will teach us important lessons about grief from specific and personal experiences of Nugget Writers. Our prayer is that you will be blessed by this series, and that somehow, whatever it is you are grieving, the lessons presented here will help you to get through.
In Dealing with Grief Part 8, we learned that when bad things happen, we need to remind ourselves that the ones who are left behind are the ones who grieve! God was the first to experience grief! He knows all about it! Today’s devotional shifts focus slightly by bringing us an important lesson in how we can help others deal with grief:
DEALING WITH THE DEATH OF A DADDY
Who, at 37 years of age, still calls their father “Daddy”?
Only someone with a VERY special dad.
The special father who merits the title of “daddy” must be someone who is still so involved with his adult child that he will spend his vacation times repairing her house and babysitting her children. That special father must be someone who is a fountain of wisdom and knows how to make peace and provide encouragement, as well as gentle guidance. That special father must be someone who still brings his adult, married daughter flowers. That special father must be someone … Just like my daddy!
It was 11 years ago that I flew out to California for my younger brother’s wedding. Though most of the details of the trip are very fuzzy in my memory, one thing stands out clearly: Daddy brought me a bouquet of flowers.
Unfortunately, I kind of took it for granted at the time. After all, it wasn’t uncommon for daddy to bring me flowers. But the reason I remember the incident so clearly is that this was the last gift he would ever give me…
Daddy spent the next 5 months running 10 miles a day, slowly making his way across the United States on foot. He and my mother were in Biloxi, Mississippi when I got the call in the wee hours of the morning. It was my brother and sister-in-law: “Dad had a heart attack. He’s gone.”
We made plans in a rush. I would fly to Mississippi to be with my mother. I would then fly with her to California where my family would meet us. My suitcase was quickly thrown together, and although my plane wasn’t going to leave until noon, we were at the airport by 9:30 a.m. Why so early? Because I needed something to keep my mind and my hands occupied, something to hold off the memories that I wasn’t yet ready to deal with.
But now I had two and a half hours on my hands…
My original plans for that day had included going to church, and since my church at the time was only minutes from the airport, I felt drawn to spend the extra time with my church family. I remember clearly how they took me in. I remember their hugs and their tears. I remember going forward for special prayer. I remember the sacrifice of a church member, who, just before I left for the airport, slipped a 50$ bill in my hand. And mostly I remember the promises of these dear people to pray for me and my family.
Then I had to board the plane, and with nothing else to occupy my mind, the memories began to flow. But somehow, I was now equipped to deal with them. Although I cried most of the way to Mississippi, the tears were healing. Oh, I was tempted to shed some of the angry, bitter kind as well, but every time the hurt would begin to set in, I could literally feel the hands of God’s angels picking me up and carrying me through. I knew that I was riding on the prayers of my church family.
While in Mississippi I had the opportunity, with my older brother, to run the last 10 miles of daddy’s run, the miles he had run the day before he died. When we finished, we were just 7 miles from the Mississippi/Alabama border. We knew daddy well enough to know he would never have wanted to finish his run mid-state, so we alternately ran his last 7 miles for him, bringing his run to an official close in Alabama. I ran a total of 14 miles that day, a feat never before or since accomplished. There’s no way I could have done it alone, but every time I thought about how tired I was, I could again feel those prayers picking me up and pushing me along.
The next weeks and months were the roughest of my life. Daddy’s death spearheaded a chain of events that involved a major move for my family, changes in my children’s education plans, changes in responsibility. And when I stand back and look over it all, I realize that I not only came through those months unscathed, but even stronger than ever. There’s only one way this could have happened: It was the prayers of my church family!
Friends, there is only one way to get through tough times like these: Prayer! If someone you know is ever in this kind of a situation, your prayers make far more of an impact than you can ever know, and if you are ever faced with the death of a “daddy” in your life, whenever you feel the grief begin to overcome you, open your heart to God! Remember, there is someone out there praying for you, and their prayers will carry you through!
I still get tears in my eyes whenever I remember that last bouquet of flowers, the last gift of a loving daddy. But thanks be to God, they aren’t tears of grief or sadness. Far more than that! They are tears of joy and thankfulness! Joy, because I know my daddy will be waiting for me in Heaven; and thankfulness to God for carrying me through this hard time, for sending me people who held us up in prayer, and mostly, for putting a Daddy into my life!
In His love,
Remember this next time you or someone you know is grieving: Your prayers make more of a difference than you could possibly know!
The next two devotionals will also be looking at how we can help others deal with grief. Join us next week for Dealing with Grief, Part 10: An Encouraging Silence.
*Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .
(To access the entire “Dealing With Grief” mini-series, please click here.)