Reflections Upon Grief
Words fail me.
That’s how I’ve felt for about 2 and half years. Which says a lot for a writer/blogger. It’s been difficult for me to write. For the first few months it was due to the busy-ness related to caring for my parents during my dad’s illness. But, then dad passed. That day… the last 24 hours spent with him, 2 years ago today, changed me.
Grief changed me. Writing is no longer easy for me. Every word is a struggle to pull together. I thought, I’ll get over this struggle in time… but it’s not gotten easier.
Grief is strange. I know it’s a natural process and every person grieves differently. For me, grief has manifested itself inwardly. I rarely talk about it. I’ve struggled to even write about it. Words… they fail me.
Last night around 6 p.m. it struck me that it has been exactly 2 years since the moment that I knew he’d leave. I was alone, when the doctor first explained the situation. After having been at the hospital all day and night, my other family members headed home for rest. I assured mom I’d stay for a few more hours because the hospital was planning a procedure and she didn’t want him to be alone. We were all so tired, but I volunteered to stay until the procedure was complete.
Before it could even begin, the doctors wanted to discuss his options with family. Being the only one there, they talked to me. It was a surreal moment. As the doctor explained, there came a moment when I gasped realizing that they were only giving one option and they explained that it would likely not be successful if we attempted to do it.
I knew. I knew in that exact moment that dad’s time with us was coming to an end.
I needed to get in touch with my mom, because ultimately she had to make the medical decisions. But, she and my other family members were all in transit headed home after such a long, long day in the hospital, after 5 months of illness, and doctors, and multiple hospitals, they were looking for a few hours of rest, but rest was not to come. Where they live, cell phone reception is very limited and distance from hospital to homes, was hours, not minutes.
For several hours after I came to the realization that my time with him was short I was alone in the ICU room with him. I tried repeatedly to call mom, or one of my siblings but it took quite a while before I reached them. When I did it was to tell them the news presented by the doctors, and to tell them to return.
So again, I stood beside his bed. Alone. Words failed me… what could I say?
He was sleeping. He wasn’t aware in those hours. But, I was aware, hyper aware, of his breathing, his pain, his presence. I held his hand. I prayed. Or, I tried to pray but I think I mostly groaned to the Lord. Words failed me.
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26
Even while praying, hoping that there was something that would bring him complete healing, I knew it was not to be. He had fought too long, too hard, and his body was just impossibly too weak to fight and battle again against a second deadly bacteria.
You see, he had already fought for 5 months one deadly bacteria that had ravaged his body. He was well on his way to complete recovery. When, a second deadly bacteria invaded his body. The secondary infection was just too much for one man, 78 year old man, to manage to fight against.
He woke on and off. Mostly in pain. I’d hold his hand and try to speak soothing words, but words failed to come. So I just made shushing noises to soothe him.
I tried to sing to him as I had done so many times over the past 5 months, and just as he had done for me so many times over my lifetime. But, words failed to come to my lips.
I think that’s what I miss the most about him, his singing to me. And, his big belly laugh and infectious happy smile. Oh, and his hugs… those huge bear hugs! Oh… but I digress.
The nurses were faithful to ensure his pain meds were being administered and that to the best of their ability they were taking such good care of him. His nurse that night, oh how I wish I remember her name, but I’ll never forget her face, she not only cared for him, she comforted me, with hugs that I didn’t ask for, and offerings of drinks and other things. She truly ministered to my heart. But she did so, without words, because she understood… words are not enough.
Eventually, mom and one of my sisters arrived. The doctors again spoke with us and decisions were made. Then the long long overnight began as my other two siblings, and eventually my husband arrived. None of us wanted to sleep, but we were so exhausted we all ended up finding a place to rest for a bit. A line of chairs in the waiting room, or in our vehicles for an hour or so. Mom, ever faithful, in the chair beside of dad.
It’s hard to say what all happened. It’s so very personal. Again, this is where words fail to convey what took place or how I and my family felt about it.
The morning dawned and dad awoke, clear minded. It was a Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Which was a blessing. The day stretched long before us, we knew not what the end process would be like. We didn’t understand all the decisions possible to us.
Family came, cousins who were as much sons to dad as we were his children. To them, he was their beloved Uncle Bill. Phone calls needed to be made to family and close friends. The business of death lay before us.
Doctors gathered us, all of us, even my cousins who weighed in their thoughts, their hearts, the love they felt for him. But, in the end after consulting with dad, the decision was made to transition to comfort care. It’s a hospital form of hospice care in that comfort is offered to the patient but life-sustaining measures removed.
It is such a hard decision to make. We knew it was right, he confirmed it to be so. He wanted to go home. Not home in an earthly sense, but home to the Father and Maker of life.
That’s when another kind of peace came. A peace that comes from the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Dad had faithfully served the Lord for well over half his life as a minister and preacher of the gospel. He taught us well that hope. There is great, great, peace in that hope.
Looking back at that time from 2 years out. My heart still hurts. Grief isn’t something one is over in a month, year, or years. Grief is an abiding constant that changes a person.
Grief has changed me in many ways.
- I find that I’m more patient.
- I think, I hope, that I love purer. Because he was such a true example of pure love to me and I hope to honor his love by loving others.
- I hold a greater level of peace in my heart, in my soul.
- I face each day with a hope for making the most of the time I have in this one life that I’ve been blessed to live.
- I don’t get as angry as I used to when someone hurts me, in fact, I forgive much easier.
- My faith in the Lord has grown stronger, and I pray it continues to do so.
- Writing — because words fail me, is still a struggle I hope to overcome. This post… hasn’t come easily.
- I hide my emotions more than I did before. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, it just is what I find myself doing.
- There are certain things that I just can’t bring myself to do, like look at pictures, or videos or listen to recordings of him. I want to get past that so I can remember, but for now… the pain is too much.
- I think I am generally quieter than I used to be, because words, well, they aren’t what they used to be. Life is more precious than mere words can say.
I’m sure there are other ways I’ve changed but for now this is what I’m mindful of.
Words… they fail me. Because there are no words that truly encompass how one feels when they have experienced the passing of someone they love. Grief. I grieve, I hurt, I sorrow, I sob, I cry, I feel… are words that are all just mere shadows of what it feels like. Words do not exist that can encompass this type of pain.
Are you grieving a loved one? Are you facing such sorrow? Whatever you are feeling, whatever emotion. It is part of the process. It’s part of the living that continues after facing such pain.
What can be said to bring comfort? Only God can comfort in this so I share His word with you, it is what sustains me in my deepest sorrow.
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7.
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One Reply to “Words Fail in Times of Grief”
I know you are speaking through your grief and it brought me to tears but you said it with such a calm assurance. I am fortunate to have a large family and so we can laugh, remember, and cry together and it helps to strengthen that constant hope that life is eternal. I will pray that you and your brother and sisters and their families can come together with your mother to enjoy some reminiscing time.