Losing a loved one can be devastating. It can be even worse when you aren’t sure where they ended up after passing away. The one comfort you can find in a death is that if you know without a doubt that person went to heaven, then you know you can join them one day if you are a Christian as well. But sometimes knowing even that doesn’t ease the pain.
They could have lived a long life and were in tremendous pain at the point of their passing. They could have been ready to go. And sometimes we use those reasons to ease our suffering, but you know what? The fact that a person you loved, no matter what age, still sucks. It hurts. Words fail us at times, and trying to console someone when they have lost someone just doesn’t work. Nothing you say can take the pain away.
It’s okay to feel all those emotions though. God wants you to be honest with him. You’re mad? You feel like punching a wall? You want to cry it out? Are you upset? Do you feel cheated? Then let him know. He’s our Father and he wants us to be real with him.
As John Green would say, “pain demands to be felt.”
So feel it. Don’t push it down. Let it out! You have the right to feel whatever you feel in that moment. Suppressing your emotions will only make things worse. The good thing is that those feelings won’t last forever. Once you give them over to God, you can breathe again.
I was fortunate enough to know three great grandparents during my lifetime. Another blessing was that I did not truly lose someone close to me until I was sixteen. I had been to funerals for distant relatives at a younger age, but I was unable to grasp and understand what was going on.
During my sophomore year, not even a month after I turned 16, I lost my Gran. Already things had not been going well for me and then she passes away. I remember asking God, “why did I have to turn 16? Did I do something wrong?” I had no idea how and what to feel. Do I skip school? Do I cry? Do I talk about it? I never had to deal with this before and I did not know what to do. At least we had a heads up that she might pass away soon, so I was not shocked by the news.
Did knowing before hand make it any better? No.
I felt guilty for being upset too. People would say, “Oh wow! She was your great grandma? You are so lucky to have known her. I never got to meet mine.” I know they were trying to make me feel better, but it only made me feel worse. I felt guilty for having a great grandmother in the first place. Why should my pain be any less just because I knew her for 16 years?
A month later, on Christmas day 2013, my great grandfather passed away suddenly. He had been diagnosed with cancer, but God decided to bring him home before the suffering started. We were not prepared for that. Christmas hasn’t been the same since then. If you would like to read more on that story click here: Why I Regret Putting Sports First
People would repeat the same words too.
“You are so blessed! You got to have your great grandfather for sixteen years! And he served in WW II? How special!”
It grew worse when they learned that his wife was still living. Their words made me feel like a brat and that I had no reason to cry or be upset. They lived into their 90’s and then went home to be with the Lord. “So, why are you crying, Raegan?”
My great grandfather’s death, my Grin-grin, was not something I anticipated so soon. Especially not even a month after we buried Gran. My heart was being attacked by so many different directions.
Going back to school, students and teachers would ask, “how was your Christmas?” I would either ignore the question or respond, “My great-grandfather died on Christmas day and then I had my wisdom teeth taken out the next day. How was yours?”
It was rude and spiteful, but I could not help it. I was mad and upset. It was not a year to be remembered.
Ever since that year, death was always on my mind. Every time the phone rang, I jumped. My dreams were not pleasant. It pained me to see my mom so unhappy. I wanted to hug my grandparents tighter because I felt guilty once again. She lost her grandparents and only had one left, yet I still had all four of mine. How was that fair?
Thoughts like that should not cloud a 16 year old girl’s mind. It was unhealthy, but I didn’t know what to do. Life goes on right? Nothing changes and you keep moving because that is the only thing you can do.
Two years later, September of my senior year of high school, I lost another relative. He was like another grandfather to me, but was actually a cousin by marriage on my father’s side of the family. People don’t even have to be blood though to be family. If you love that person, it doesn’t matter!
It was lung cancer this time. I missed school for the funeral, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I thought I would be okay, but when I hugged my Maw Dolly, his wife, after it was over, I lost it. I could not stop crying.
I went to volleyball practice after it was over like nothing had happened. I wanted to scream and cry in a corner, but life wouldn’t have it. It stops for no one.
Last week I lost my last great grandparent. My Gee-gee. I knew it had been coming for a long time. The past four years have been up and down with her health. She lived to be 94, and I couldn’t even cry when I found out she died.
I went to work. I thought something was wrong with me because I couldn’t cry. I knew I was upset. I was definitely sad, but I was also glad she wasn’t hurting anymore. My heart broke for my mom and her dad. His mom was gone, and my mom no longer had any grandparents left on this earth.
In reality, I was angry that she suffered for a long time. The past two times I visited her, she was not herself. She would not talk, and I found myself crying out in the hallway of her room. I knew I could not go back, but still felt guilty every time my mom left to go see her. I felt like I was letting my mom and my grandfather down.
Everyone deals with things in their own way. I tend to let everything build up and then I let it go. The funeral is tomorrow, and I know I am not prepared. I feel it all coming. It will all come out. I’m dreading it, but also excited to see who all will come. Gee-gee was loved by many and she opened up her arms to everyone she met. I am interested in hearing all the “Gee-gee stories” that people will share. It makes me proud to be her great-granddaughter.
I am incredibly blessed to have known three great grandparents, and I am thankful for the time I was able to spend with them. Yet, it doesn’t make their deaths any easier to handle. I do find comfort in knowing that I will see them again one day.
Also, whenever my world is thrown off center, I look at this verse:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Now, I know I do not have to be strong ALL the time, but when I do feel weak, I can lean on God. He will help me get through the hard times, like tomorrow. He will never leave or forsake me, and he will always have my back. Sometimes I may think He isn’t there, but of course, I am wrong in those moments of doubt.
Carrie Underwood has a song, “See You Again”. I like to listen to it when I am traveling back to school, because it reminds me that I will see my mom again when I do come back home. The song also applies for when you lose someone. I will see them again, and it may hurt now, but my family will be reunited because John 3:16 says,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
So, if you are struggling with the death of a loved one, or are missing someone who has died many years ago, please remember that you are not alone in that situation. If you would like someone to talk to or wish to share your story, you can find my email under the contact page on the menu tab. I do not have answers for everything, but what I don’t know, I will point you to someone that can help.