Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Don't ask, just GO
My precious father-in-law passed away a week before Christmas after being sick with cancer for just 50 days. He was such a vital part of our lives, and we all really miss him. It is a pain that only those who have lost a parent can understand. I can't imagine the pain of losing your spouse or your child. I am praying the Lord knows I can't handle that kind of pain!
D's daddy died in the middle of the night & we found out around 6am. I posted a quick post on our Caring Bridge website (strongly recommend if a loved one is really sick or you have a preemie baby, etc) to let our friends know that Papa was in Heaven rejoicing with His Heavenly Father. I don't remember making phone calls, though I probably called my parents.
What I do remember is that friends just showed up. They didn't call & ask what to do, they just came. A group started frantically wrapping Christmas gifts for me. My mother & another friend stuffed our remaining Christmas cards that hadn't been mailed. One friend brought her brother who was visiting from another state, and he helped load Santa's gifts onto our car roof. The night before, friends had loaned us the rooftop luggage in case we needed it, and we did. Another friend just followed me around as I packed. She laughed and said she was no help, but you know what, she was of GREAT help. I needed her company. I needed the presence of the body of Christ!! One friend came in the house, emptied one little trash can, and had to go back to attend to her 2 youngest children. Some people wouldn't have stopped by because she was not of great physical help. But she was of great help. Again, I needed her hug and to know that she cared enough to drive to my house, even if she was not the one wrapping gifts or doing some other deed. It was her presence. We needed to get our five children and ourselves packed as quickly as possible. These friends made it happen by unloading dishes, etc, but even more so by their presence. We were able to focus rather than dissolving into tears. Two friends called continuously throughout our 10 day trip (funeral in one state, burial in another, all with the stomach bug) and that brought me great comfort. We felt so alone, and yet their calls reminded me that I am never alone! God was with us & He used our friends to remind us. I can't explain what that day meant to me.
Since Dec. 18th, I have been called to apply what I learned from that day. Just 3 weeks after D's daddy died, friends lost their precious 2 year old. We didn't have childcare options, so I sent D. He just needed to go. He couldn't take away their pain, but his presence brought them comfort. Too often we think we might be in the way, or we should give someone their privacy, or we just don't want to be sad and uncomfortable, so we stay away. I learned that you don't stay away. You need to rearrange your schedule and just GO. Go to their house & ask what you can do, but GO first. If you ask on the phone, they probably don't even know their needs. If they still don't know what they need, look around. Make a bed, put on a pot of coffee, pick up lunch for them, buy some flowers, check the laundry, or take out the trash. Above all, make every effort to be there.
But not just immediately after the death.... you need to be there throughout the year and even years after that. Be tender, think of others, and the Lord will bless you as you bless others.