Journeying through Grief

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I haven’t written much at all this year, as my dear Mumma passed away 10 weeks ago in January. She had battled a long journey over her life, of diabetes, strokes and eventually because of hip surgery the rapid onset of dementia. Even though I knew the end was inevitable in the near future, nothing can prepare you for the loss of your mum. It has been a journey through which I have held hands tightly with God, my husband and kids, and extended family and friends.

Mum passed away the week before school started, and so I was not able to be at school for teachers’ work week, or for the first few days of school. I was supporting my 94 year old amazing Dad, who still lives at home, and taking care of all the paperwork and legal things following the funeral. To add to the sore heart, my brother, sister and family were unable to travel to New Zealand due to strict border controls because of Covid. The day leading up to mum’s passing, and through the week that followed, through to the funeral we did everything via video call. They were able to talk to mum and say goodbye, and we even managed to have them on zoom so they could participate in the funeral. But it just was not right. It hurt. As soon as the border opens, we are itching to be back together.

I found it hard watching my kids grieve, and I think they found it hard watching us grieve. I couldn’t fix things for them, couldn’t make it better. What I could do though, was do this journey together. And boy did we band together. We talked lots, and found many ways for them to process the loss of their Nana. We have daffodil bulbs that we gave out at the funeral (mum loved flowers), and so I have a pot each for the kids for nana’s daffodils.

After my leave, it was very unusual starting school for the year, straight into teaching classes, battling in my mind how I was going to get back into the normal rhythm of life. Very soon it got busy, along with organising Pathfinder events at church, including a hike on the West Coast (which was actually very therapeutic…that will have to be another post…btw Pathfinders is similar to Scouts/Girl Guides but globally underpinned by our church). I took things day by day, piece by piece and am doing ok.

Grief has a strange way of popping up in the most random of places, and I have learned to embrace it and not be ashamed of it. Something will make me think of mum, and miss her dearly, then in the same breath a memory will make me giggle. Sometimes it is the mega realisation that I wont feel her kiss again, or the seemingly minor things like not eating her shortbread that sets me off. My mum was always my champion, and it is strange not having her around. I feel like I am the metaphorical ‘mum’ now, and as my kids grow I take on her mantle, her responsibility of guiding my kids to what is beautiful and right in life. Things have changed. You don’t go through grief and come out the other side the same again. Loss changes you – you don’t necessarily repair from it, but kinda get patched up a bit. It’s a bit like a scar – you learn to live with it, and it is a reminder. Grief is the process of wishing for the people / things / advice / celebrations / gatherings / conversations / hugs… that used to be, and reframing yourself in the new normal. It is the process of redefining yourself IN the journey. And I am ever so grateful to be doing that with God, who knows me and knows what my journey looks like without mum. Who knows if that makes sense, but what is important is, that there is no formula for grief, no set time, no specific way…your grief journey is yours, and no one can tell you what the right way is to journey through it.

My faith has been central to all of this. God listened to a lot of prayers that were not even framed with words. I believe he heard my heart cry, and carried us all through. God heard the sighs, the words of tears, the messages of just being in his presence. I believe he heard them, and was hurting too. Mum would have been glad to finally be surrendering her journey to God, and was devout in her belief in God. She knew the next time she opened her eyes, she would be looking at her Saviour. Mum sleeps now, she rests. But there is so much HOPE this Easter, that Jesus not only took our punishment to give us life, but He conquered death itself by rising from the dead. He has all the right to come back one day and call his faithful servants home.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Be encouraged, be uplifted, be assured. One day He will make this earth new, and we will be reunited. What HOPE and ASSURANCE to hold on to.

I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away.

Revelation 21: 1-4

There is a bigger plan apart from this world. A bigger plan that gives us hope, and meaning to our life here. Come soon Jesus, we have a lot of catching up to do!

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