I woke up really early this morning with a vivid image. What came to my mind was a frozen pond thawing in the Spring. As the footsteps press onto the ice it may fracture and shatter what once was a solid sheet. The security it offered in the winter is now gone. What remains is uncertain. What remains is illusive.
Grief is just as uncertain as the once frozen pond. Grief is as unique as a fingerprint. For some they become stand up comedians, for others they noticeably wear it daily, and still others you may not see visibly that they’re even grieving, and then there are others who are a variation of any and all of these.
I met him today. Frail, weak and tired he sits motionless with his eyes closed in an easy chair. I can tell he’s a tall man too. My friend quickly introduces him to me connecting the dots as to why I am here. It takes a lot of strength to work your way out. “Out of where?” you may ask… out of this life and into eternity.
With all the strength that remains he is working his way out of this life as we know it and into Heaven. He is going to Heaven not because he is dying, but because he believes in Jesus Christ and has an intentional relationship with him.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NIV)
He has witnessed to countless through his courageous battle with cancer. He has shared his testimony to the masses in his chemo treatments. His pleasant disposition has provided hope to the hopeless and scattered seeds of faith to the churches and unchurched alike.
“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” Luke 12:8-9 (NIV)
I am humbled and honored to have been asked again to walk along side another friend whose friend is being cared for by Hospice Austin. These are very dear friends of mine and they are loving their friend into Heaven.
For those of you who may not know I am a Hospice Austin volunteer. I am no expert. I have no specialized credentials. I didn’t go to school for this, but what I do have is a special love for anyone walking along side a loved one or family member exiting this world as we know it. I have a great love for the lost, for the broken, and for the hurting.
I have survived both my parents entering into heaven. I have experienced friends who have died and the hardest of all, I have walked with friends whose children have passed away and been killed. I have experienced grief first hand and watched my children grieve the loss of their friends.
I share this not to qualify me, but for the hope that you consider that person we encounter, whether it be a family member, a friend, a coworker or a stranger even, and the exchange is less than favorable, they may be grieving. They might be downright mean or hateful even. While it’s not always the case, consider it could be they are grieving. Their loss of a loved one could have been four years, fourteen years or four months ago. The loss they experience could be from that of a job, a home, a dream, a relationship, or the loss of their health or finances.
Historians report the act of wearing black in respect to mourning dates back as early as the Roman Empire. It was easy to tell who was in mourning because they wore black for that period of time. It was easier back then to anticipate someone maybe having a hard time. Today… it’s not quite that easy.
The emotions and feelings of the grieving are just as thin as the ice is in the Spring on that lake or pond that carried you last Winter. One look, one word, one platitude may fracture and shatter their emotions and feelings plunging them into the depths of the freezing waters.
The smile that you give, the warm touch on their shoulder, or simply asking the question, “How are you?” may very well unlock the healing they have been so longing for. At the very least we can set our feelings and fleshly responses aside and show them the love of Jesus.