Monday, November 9, 2009

...across the room for a year without Jean.....

One year ago life changed forever as my sister breathed her final breath and joined her son Del and our Mom in glory.
I will never forget that day and the week to follow as we looked after the details of our final good-byes to Jean. What I didn't realize then was that it was not my final good-bye at all. This past year has been filled with constantly having to say good-bye over and over again. I think that is what one has to do to come to terms with a loss. It takes time to let a loved one go and this process WILL not be rushed. This year has been long and without a doubt the most painful and difficult year I have had in all my life.
The text book cycle of grieving got all murky in my life it seemed. The shock and emotional release which most people experience more immediately hit me after I returned home. I put my life on hold to be with my sister most of the last six weeks of her life and I have no regrets about investing that time in her family to support them and to be with Jean even though she may not have known most of the time that I was with her. So I can't say that I have any guilt feelings of regret about needing to do more than I did. What I did find was that even though I thought I had progressed in the cycle of the stages of grief they seemed to need to be revisited and they would even merge and overlap to the point of almost immobilizing me at times. The pain of it all was worse than any physical pain I have ever had to endure.
As the year rolls to an end I am definitely experiencing less of it and am enjoying the memories and pictures without having to cry every time.
What I did for myself this year is try to surround myself with people who did not pretend to know it all. Nor did they try to cheer me up when I was sad, offer cliches or pat answers. Only two people told me they knew exactly how I felt and I immediately forgave them for saying it. Friends simply sat with me, didn't mind being around me in my state, asked me to talk about Jean, and were just simply themselves even though I was not. What a gift they have been to me! And where was God in all of this? Right with me! Holding me and whispering comfort, caring for me and loving me through it. He never left me alone.....never got impatient or angry with me. He just let me walk through at my own pace. To be in His presence has been my refuge, my rest, and my great joy!
I can't say that I ever thought that God was going to heal Jean physically. Her healing had been granted in her spirit the last year of her life. She experienced tremendous spiritual healing and understanding of who God is and she believed He was Sovereign and all-sufficient and had experienced Him as such. She trusted Him with her life. So I felt that He was taking her home to be with Him and spoke with her in that fashion, giving her my blessing to go to be with Jesus and promising her that I would be there for her family as much as they needed me to be and that is what I have been doing this year. I love each one of them as my own and would do anything for them.
Jean, I will always remember you as someone with whom I could share matters of the heart, knowing you would not only understand but have personal experiences very similar and often exactly the same and I miss that so much. I will remember you as the one I could call on to pray for me when I felt I really needed someone on my side and I miss that especially these last two days. I can clearly hear your fabulous hearty laugh as I write this and think about you and it seems like it will be forever until I will hear that again but then I know I can hear it forever! I will mostly remember you for your unwavering love and trust in our most amazing Savior and Lord of our lives, Jesus Christ. I miss you Jean!


Renee said...

That's a beautiful tribute to your sister, Elayne. I agree with so much of what you said in your post. Grief-healthy grief- cannot be rushed and the many stages of grief are often revisited, sometimes further adding to our sadness. I am learning to submit to God in grief. If I feel sad, that's okay, I can lean on God in those moments. If I am happy with my life, and where I am at, that's okay too, I can praise God in those moments. Thanks for sharing your heart today. Praying for you!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way to express yourself and honor Jean and her family, all in one writing! Thank you, as well, for honoring your friends and allowing us to walk along side you in your grief. Actions speak louder than words and we can only hope that our walking beside you honors you and God as well. Blessings dear one!


Jobina said...

I'm sure I have no idea of the depths your grief has taken you, but Mom I'm so glad that God has put those friends around you to walk with you! I totally get the thing about saying goodbye over and over again, it's definitely not a one time deal. Big hugs and squishes!

Elayne said...

Thank you all and thank you for your support. I actually had a pretty good "anniversary" day. I have to say that Jean would find it a little humorous because she was not one to pay attention to those kinds of days. She was not sentimental in that way. I tried to remember that yesterday and it made me smile quite a few times during the day as I drove and drove and drove!