Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Henry's gone to be with Jesus

I've never walked this path before.

Sunday evening, on a dark and rainy 4th of July, Henry passed away.

His children had left minutes before.
Sandy was alone with him.
For ten minutes.

Then he was gone.

Within a half hour Sandy had called all of our small group. She just said, "He's gone. I need you," and we were there with her.

Without saying much more, now I understand what it means when someone says that our body is just a shell - that this body is just a tent.

I've never walked this path before.

Henry's memorial service - a celebration of his life - will be held this Saturday, July 10th. I have been helping put together the memorial folders/cards for it. Assisting in any way I can to help the planning and execution of this go smoothly.

Again, I've never walked this path before.

I have never lost someone really this close to me. If Sandy is like a mom to me, and grandma to my kids, Henry was like a father in many ways to me, and grandpa to my kids.

I also realized yesterday, that I have never dealt with grief or loss in the moment. When bad things happened to me, or I experienced a loss of some kind, I stuffed it. I shut down my emotions. I ignored it. I ran from it. And eventually the pain faded into the background.

In counseling all that came out, one incident at a time, and I worked through those griefs and losses and wounds. But that was an intensive situation.... from past experiences, and so I felt like they were done and over pretty quickly.... if that makes sense.

But this.
This is something entirely different. I am having to walk through this in the moment, as an adult. I am having to do what is expected of me.... different responsibilities. That is fine. I am more than willing to do that.

But I don't know what it looks like to grieve.
I have never done that within the context of the situation - at the time it was happening.

I don't know what it looks like for me to grieve...... and then how do I help someone else too, like Sandy, or like the other members in our small group?

Monday I was so exhausted, I didn't want to even eat. I had a friend over, and she actually went out and got me something from a restaurant because I hadn't eaten pretty much all day, and she sat with me till I ate and until my husband came home from work. My emotions were mostly shut down - numb - in shock I think. I couldn't pray.

Yesterday, I had to come to work.

Still exhausted. Still numb.
But the numb started to alternate with emotions. It took me a while to identify them.

Some was hurt.
Some was anger.

When the church was quiet and I was the only one here, I went into the sanctuary. I didn't want to be there.... but felt drawn I guess. I still didn't feel like I could pray. But I started just talking out loud. Eventually yelling at God.

I sat down with a thud on the steps to the platform, still with my back to the cross, and said,
"Well, at least I'm talking to You now."

Then the tears.

And then they just shut off like someone shut off a faucet.

I pretty much stayed shut down and exhausted the rest of the day.

I feel sick to my stomach at the mere thought of food.
And am still shut down for the most part today - except for the big lump in my throat that won't go away.

And Sandy. I can't imagine what she is going through right now.
The ache of the loss must be unbearable.

She said today that she does something for a little while, and then her mind just blanks out, things get blurry and she just has to stop. That's a God thing, or she would overload herself.

We know that Henry is seeing Jesus face to face, seeing in full what we can only see in part, dimly now.

But we are grieving.
Please pray for Sandy and her son and daughter and two grand kids. Pray for our small group; we have been as close as family with them for at least 6 years. Pray for our church family who has had this couple as part of their body for over 30 years.

Pray for me as I try to process through this. Not having done this before, not having had experience in even being close to someone who has lost a loved one..... pray that I do the right things, say the right things, and that if I don't we all give grace to one another.

I don't want to take attention from Sandy and her needs. I don't want to --- I don't even know how to put it and it sounds selfish and stupid to see it typed out.

I just don't want to "do" this thing before me.... I don't know how to, or even what it looks like for me.... not how others think it should look like, but what God wants it to look like, or how He's created me to work through this as an individual.

I guess part of what it is, is this. I see that Sandy has lost someone, her other half of 47 years. Of course she is going to grieve and mourn. And it's about supporting her and being there for her through this current time, and through the coming weeks, months, years.

I don't think I have gotten past that too much to understanding that I have had a loss too. I mean, in my head, I understand that. But my heart and emotions are telling me to suck it up and to stuff it, and to set it aside because it's more important to help Sandy right now.

So, earlier in the post I can say, "I've never walked this path before" or that I have lost someone close to me, but it really doesn't register that it's a loss for me too. When I start to experience emotion about it, about Henry's death, I am fighting with myself because the instinct is to shut down. Mentally and emotionally.

As I am so infrequent in blogging in the past 8 months or so, I don't know who reads this anymore, but for those of you who do, please do pray for all of us. And, any thoughts you have to help me through this..... I would appreciate it, because the pat "Christian answers" just aren't cutting it for me.


Tina said...

Dear Heather,
I will pray, I have not had to walk that road either ... I am so sorry for your loss, for Henry's family and friends.

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

you are carrying a heavy burden of grief, for yourself for Sandy and for all who loved Henry ... please know that I will go before the Father to lift you all up as you walk this painful road.

In Him,

Clay Feet said...

Heather, I appreciate and feel it is important for you to remain open and honest about what you are feeling right now. I have a number of things I want to share with you about this, and yes, I have gone through this myself a number of times. I will write more later. But know that we are thinking of you.