Saturday, September 15, 2012

Death

Now there's a somber title, but it kind of describes how I'm feeling about life right now.  Now there's an oxymoron too.

Death vs Life: we take life so much for granted until something happens and death stalks our door.  Then we are extremely grateful for the life we have been given and well we should be.  But how do you prepare yourself for the inevitability of death or can you?  Must it always come as a surprise and wallop you on the side of the head and while you are groping and grasping for meaning to this untimely death, another one comes and wallops you on the other side.

That's a little of how I have been feeling these last two and a half weeks: a little walloped on all sides.  Since Tuesday, August 28, 2012, six people have died.  The last two are not people I have known real well, but they were patients at the clinic.  All six of these people died an untimely death--it doesn't seem fair, it doesn't seem right, but yet I know God has a plan.  How do I even begin to process all this?

Let me tell you a little about them:
#1 This little baby died before he had a chance to live.  His parents, I am sure, prayed and grieved and cried over him.  I am sure they hoped and begged and longed for him.  As I help to wash him up, my heart lurched as I saw the little pampers the mom had included (just in case)  These were laid together with the white burial clothes and the just maybe he will live sleeper.  The hope of life and the reality of death all joined together, but death won.  I was stretched that day to the max: death, my first ambulance ride, fear, advocating for the husband, trying to find family to come and sit with the husband, wondering how to grieve, gratefulness to the cleaning lady who stood by me and helped me wash that still life, then realizing this was a complete first for her, then trying to go back to work and finish the day out.   God was there and He was faithful.  I didn't think I could do it, but I did and I made it mostly until I came home and my husband's arms wrapped around me, then the sobs came as I replayed the day.  Every time I woke up that night, I replayed the tapes.  PTL!  The mother is doing fine, though I am sure the grief is overwhelming at times.

#2  A little 2 and a half year old born with a life-destroying disease.  He exceeded his life expectancy by about 2 years, but that same week on Saturday, I had to tell the family over the phone that this is likely the end for him and to keep him comfortable.  He died on Monday

#3  A 20 year old drowned in the prime of life.  My dear friend who had stood by me so faithfully on Tuesday now was grieving the loss of her son.  Why God? Why?  Why would You take him?  He was loved and wanted by all who knew him.  The utter helplessness of going over to her house and just wrapping my arms around her and crying with her.  I don't know what to say.  I have been walloped on both sides now and my mind is reeling.  I am being forced out of my comfort zone.  I know it is good for me, but I just want to retreat rather than rescue, be hidden rather than help.  But God has called us to grieve with those that grieve and I want to be there for her.  We did really enjoy our evening spent with them this last week.  It was good to get to know her other children and to spend time with them.

#4 A 40-something year old lady driven down by cancer and then by 2 strokes.  A lady I grew up knowing who is the age of my sister and now she is gone, leaving behind grieving family and friends.  I know I should be at the viewing, I think it is good to go.  I have realized in the past weeks how much being there and supporting those who are grieving can mean; but, I feel incapable of going.  I think of them and pray for them, but this time I will be silent and hidden.  Please family, I want you to understand.  I feel bad--I have a good friend who is grieving the loss of her aunt and I feel like I am letting her down.  Please, that is not my intent--I want to be there for you now, but as I told you earlier when you called me, I still feel unable to respond and to be there in person, but I do care for you.

#5&6 A couple, yes in their 70's, killed as the result of a car/buggy accident.  She was killed instantly; he lingered a few days.  I am sure their family is saying why as well.  No, I doubt they are audibly, but inwardly, where no one can see.

Why do we hide our emotions?  Why do we not want to share our griefs?  What is wrong with crying and hugging and caring for those around us?  But that is a tangent for another day, I guess.  Is it wrong to ask Why?  I don't ask it because I am bitter at God.  I don't ask it because I think God did me wrong.  I don't ask it even to have an answer.  I just ask because it seems unfair.  When bad things happen to us, it always seems unfair.  I know it is the result of living in a fallen world.  I know God has the ultimate control and He sees the big picture, but to us...all we see are the dark and looming thunderheads--God sees the silver lining. I want to trust Him and I want to learn what I can through these past dark weeks and I want to be made a better person for having walked through grief.

I know I have still not experienced grief in a close and personal way; and there are probably those saying, you don't really get it yet do you?  What are you going to do when death really hits you?  I don't know what I will do, but I hope I will cling closer and closer to the One who is able to carry me through and to carry all the grieving families through this valley of the shadow of death.

These Healing Hills by Ann Gabhart

Set in Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains during the time of the Frontier Nursing Service and the end of World War II comes a story tha...