Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lessons I'm Learning on Death, Dying and Grief - Part Four - Even if no one is with you, you don't die alone.

I've been moving, so this series has taken a break, but I hope to be able to post at least once a week on this until I'm done - whatever that means.

During his last week, all of his children and grandchildren came to see him.  At one time or another we stood by his bed, held his hand and spoke with him.  I have to say that this last week was probably one of his more lucid in recent history.  He knew who we were, and with little prompting knew what was going on in our lives.  He was never alone, right up until he drew his last breath.  One of us and my mother were with him at all times.

We worry about our loved ones 'dying alone.'  It is natural for us to want them to be surrounded by those who loved them.  We want to accompany them as far as we can in the journey.  However, much like the security checkpoints at airports now days, those who do not have a ticket, can only go so far.  Ultimately, we can only accompany our loved ones so far.  But I have learned that there are those waiting for them past that point we cannot go.

My father had a large family.  He was the oldest of nine children.  Even though he was the oldest, five of his siblings predeceased him, and of course, his parents.  As we were gathered around his bed, we pretty quickly realized, we weren't the only ones in the room.  At the foot of the bed was someone, we believe to be LaFoy, my father's brother, and we are pretty sure his mother was present because he kept talking to her.  There was a child there we believe to be Patsy, my father's sister who died when she was four.  He would talk with them and with us, like we were all part of the same conversation, and after all, we are.  He would look past us intently, as if he were trying to hear something, and then his face would break into a smile and he would start laughing as if someone told the funniest joke!  I'm pretty positive that would have been my uncle.

There was someone else too. Dad would be having conversations with someone he called, "my Lord."  He would stop and listen and then shake his head or make a comment.  There was definitely a conversation going on between my father and his Lord.  At one time after an exchange, I asked my father, "are you talking to Jesus daddy?"  My father looked at me, and nodded with big eyes.  "Yes," he whispered.  "Is he telling you to come on?" I asked.  My father looked at me, incredulous that I could hear the conversation as well.  He said, "yes."  "Don't you think you should do it then?" I asked.  "Yes,' he said, "It is so bright." 

I am convinced my father could see the glory that is heaven.  I'm convinced he was having a conversation with Jesus about passing from this life to the next one.  I'm convinced that those who love my father were there as a welcoming committee of sorts to walk with him on the journey. 

We do not walk alone.  We never have.  Just like the disciples on the Emmaus road.  Blinded by their grief, they could not see that they walked with Jesus.  Even when we feel alone, if we look around someone is there walking with us, if we have eyes to see. 


Cheefrsz123 said...

Now that I have wiped all my tears I can say, this is so beautiful! I am realizing as well all my immediate family members and what they endured as they passed on. Since 1974 to now I have lost 3 brothers, mother, father, and sister. Thank you so much for sharing this and definitely looking forward to reading the rest. Something pushed me to start here..God bless you.

Sonja Tobey said...

Blessings as you journey this road. I have compared grief to waves. Like if you are standing in the ocean, and the waves rock you back and forth until a big one hits. And as quickly as it came it goes again. It is like that for me with grief and tears. I'll do just fine rocking along with the ebbing and flowing of grief, and then a really big wave will wash over me and then it will be fine again. Thank you for commenting.