It was a privilege to host the 10:45 All Souls service at Emmanuel Church today as we especially remembered those we have personally lost in the past year.
Next week we will “remember” in a much broader context and that’s right and proper but this service in some ways validates our own grief.
And I do mean “our grief” for those who don’t know my own story this is what I shared today…
To be honest this year has been a year of funerals; I lost my nana and my mother-in-law within the space of a month. A good friend of mine recently lost her husband suddenly; we’ve lost friends from church including this week one our dear retired clergy.
I can honestly say I didn’t cry at any of the funerals I’ve been to this year, I don’t think I am hard hearted but nothing can every compare with what happened seven years ago this month when I lost my husband, suddenly and completely out of the blue.
To say my world was totally turned upside down is frankly a whopping great understatement. Andrew was only 48 when he died, I was 42 and our boys were 13 and 10.
In some ways it is easier in the beginning, there is so much to do and people are kind. My church family has always been a real support to me.
But there comes a time when even if other people don’t say it to you out loud you might think “when will this grief be over?”
Although actually I still feel quite numb, as I said I rarely cry at funerals and maybe that’s a symptom of taking anti-depressants. I’ve tried to reduce them but each time I do I get so far and then have a massive wobble which isn’t pretty, especially for my close friends who feel the brunt of it.
I used to think grief was more or less a finite thing with a beginning, death, and an end, getting over it and moving on to the next stage of life, whatever that may be.
I’ve actually not moved much in seven years.
My boys have grown up, into handsome young men, and their lives have progressed, new friends have come into my life and some have already moved on in that time. Old friends have moved back into my life. Everything is changing for everyone else and I so often feel stuck in a rut.
I have questioned God - what is this all about? Why did this have to happen? Isn’t God supposed to bring good things out of bad for those who trust him? It says that in the Bible so it MUST be true.
So what’s the plan? God doesn’t always answer clearly; he doesn’t email you a personal blueprint. If he has mine’s got lost in cyberspace.
There are lots of well-meaning but sometimes glib answers out there from Christians and non-Christians alike. Time doesn’t necessarily “heal” but it does help put things into perspective.
The biggest thing I have learned over these past seven years is not to rush my grief. I’ve learned to go with the flow and I was always such a planner before. When I look back objectively with my sensible head on I can see so much that God has worked out in my life.
He has been a constant guide and comforter to me, when I remember to talk to him and when I actually listen to him. In the same way I have been a constant guide and comforter for my two boys when they talk and listen to me.
The bottom line is my faith is a relationship not just blindly following a set of rules.
I don’t really want my boys to grow up too quickly and I know when they do leave home (the youngest will be heading to university next autumn), hopefully I will have given them the skills they need to fend for themselves in the big wide world.
Then I can properly start my own new chapter.
But these seven years haven’t been wasted and my future will be built on the foundations of my life so far, being a wife, a mother, a widow, a friend and someone with just a bit more patience, wisdom and understanding than I ever had before.