No one ever told me grief felt so like fear.
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
My husband’s father passed into the more immediate presence of our Lord and Savior at the end of October. His death came after a diagnosis of Lung Cancer that had metastasized to his spine. A short 7 weeks later we would no longer hear his laughter, witness the love he had for his grandsons, the love he had for each of us as children, or the precious love he held for mom. We would no longer be able to hear his great stories or listen to his wise advice and constant encouragement. Near the end of his life last hugs were given and last I Love You’s said.
I called this great man Dad – not out of obligation because I am married to his eldest son but because he truly was my dad. He in so many ways, more ways than I can count embraced me like a daughter – something that was not an experience I really had before. I believe, he looked out for me, loved me, cared for me, encouraged me, and challenged me to be the best I could be.
I haven’t talked much about the role he played in my life or how his death impacted me. I’m not completely sure why – I know that it came with a great amount pain and rawness on many levels. In addition to not feeling this level of grief before, I quickly learnt that grieving is very different when you have a young one who is also grieving deeply and needing a mom and dad to help guide him. Being sure he had the support he needed often was the priority. I never wanted him to fear death. However, I do want people to hear clearly that I did have places I could openly grieve and continue to have those people and places in my life.
When I read that quote above by C.S. Lewis it was as if it were written for my son. Written for him in the sense that he has been afraid of how his Gramps death will impact his golf skills and game, fear of how things will happen now that this essential person was missing from the equation, and sadly fear of so many elements and things. Being a double PK (a pastors kid, who has two parents who are pastors), he has attended many many funerals and has grown up with hearing us talk about death, scripture, and faith. Even though he knew plenty about death, Gramps’ death rocked his world (as it should have) and opened many profound questions about life and death and the role that God plays in each. However, as C.S. Lewis indicated, grief felt like fear, to my precious child.
Last week, we enrolled him in a camp at our local hospice that was held at the K.B. Reynolds Hospice Home in Winston-Salem, NC. Although I can still sense and even see in his eyes much fear, there also seems to be a different level of processing going on within him. He’s by no means over his grief and I’m going to say all fear is gone within him. What I will say, is he is taking new steps and I’m incredibly proud of him for stepping out in faith. He’ll always have Gramps in his heart and carry precious tender and funny memories, as he himself travels through life.
In closing, I share a couple of things, Never be afraid to seek help as you grieve – it’s lonely enough, reach out to a qualified therapist or to your local Hospice. My experience as a pastor is that hospices are not only a provider of care as one comes close to the end of their life but they offer a multitude or resources to help loved ones relearn how to live. I feel certain that resources are available not only for children but for adults as well and these resources are indeed life sustaining and life giving. I know for certain that the K.B. Reynolds Hospice Home does offer resources for both adults and children and you don’t have to be grieving the loss of a loved one whom they cared for – they see the importance of grief work in general.
The pictures below are of the closing portion of my son’s participation at Camp Carousel. They wrote a message to their loved one’s and placed it in the butterfly tent and then blew bubble’s upward.