Today marks the 14th anniversary of my dad's death. 14 years is a long time to miss someone, but God heals all wounds and I am at peace with losing my father. I'm sad of course, but not devastated like I once was. There is joy in my pain, healing in my brokenness.
I've been sad all week thinking about death, but not my father's. Instead, I've cried for my sweet aunt and uncle who lost their only son, my cousin, last Friday. Blake's death ripped the band aid off all those raw moments that surround a sudden death. Honestly, I had forgotten how I felt 14 years ago when I learned of my dad's death. Hearing about Blake's passing opened the floodgates of emotion and I have been heartbroken all week for the loss of another family member and for the family left behind.
Being a person who has lost an immediate family member, I can say that I know a few things about dealing with death. First, it's so important that other people say how great your loved one was. I remember being so overwhelmed and feeling so blessed by all of the stories of how awesome my dad was. I knew he was awesome, but to hear his college classmates, high school teachers, and coworkers tell my brothers and me about the impact he made on their lives was so comforting and special. We knew he was great, but hearing other people say so reinforced that. It was like realizing he was world famous great! And that made me feel honored to have been his family and justified about the depth of my grief. Losing a great man warranted a great heartache.
Second, people need people. Jamie didn't leave my side for a month after my dad died. She spent the night with me for 30 days in a row while I worked out the seemingly tangible pain I felt from my broken heart. Having people around during those first weeks after a loss is so vital. People need people to cry with, to remind them to eat, to help figure out if you're ever going to be alright again.
Third, God will get you through. I was angry at God after I lost my dad, but I held onto Him tightly because I knew He was my only hope in overcoming the grief. I can't describe what God has done to my heart regarding losing my dad. There is still sadness, there is still longing to talk to him just one more time, but I am healed. I am not devastated and despaired. I am whole and repaired.
I've had 14 years to walk with God in my healing. It's somewhat easy for me say that there is hope and healing after a loved one dies, but there is. My heart is sad tonight not for 14 years without my awesome dad, it's sad for my family that has just begun their healing after death. Will you pray for them?