Grief is a strange thing. Some days it simply sits with you as a constant companion, never interrupting your rhythm and yet, always present.
Other days, waves of sadness, love, depression and joy come one after another as you miss your loved one terribly and at the same moment, are intensely grateful for the time you had together. Joy and grief are an unlikely pair, but here they are, sitting together with us.
Days will go by where you feel like all is well in your world and then you will see their name in your phone contacts and suddenly you are catapulted back into active, soul-wrenching mourning.
For my family, and many of our friends, this has been a year of grief.
It started last spring when my beloved grandfather began showing signs that his body was giving out. Pop was the quintessential grumpy old man with a heart of gold. He had a deep and abiding faith that shaped his daily life – he loved quietly serving others while taking no credit at all for having done so.
Pop had been telling us for years that he was ready to go, that he was just waiting for his body to give out. And then one day, it did. He took his last breath May 25, 2015.
Nearly one year later, on April 26, 2016, Pop’s wife of nearly 70 years, Gingy, took her last breath. She was the family matriarch in so many ways and her impact on our lives is impossible to measure. It’s hard to believe she’s gone.
We celebrated her life in the worship center they planned as part of the building committee, just as we had celebrated his the year before. Their pastor shared how Gingy was partially responsible for him being their senior pastor as she was on the search committee that called him to the church as a youth pastor. She was an active volunteer with the church all her adult life, pouring her life into the lives of others, serving with grace and joy.
As I was preparing Gingy’s eulogy, Philippians 4:8 popped into my head.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
My grandmother was true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. She did more than think about such things, she lived them. She was a beautiful example to each of us of a life-well-lived.
While my grandparents were far from perfect people, they were good people. They were faithful people. Their nearly 70-year marriage was nothing short of a miracle. (They got married at 17 and 18 and had two kids before they were 20 – can you even imagine?!)
As we mourn the loss of their daily presence in our lives, there is also joy. Joy in the gift of their presence in our lives. Joy in the memories. Joy in the blessing of watching them live out their faith in large and small ways each and every day. Joy in the hope of seeing them again one day.
Grief remains. But joy, joy is taking over.
How about you? How has the grieving process been for you?