Grief and Goodbye

Written Jan 2015: A lot of what I do in my line of work is palliative care. It is the most rewarding part of my job. This is the place where I really feel like my gifts and skills come together to be a blessing for someone. Recently, I have had several occasions to be that blessing. And as I provide comfort to my patient medicinally, I also provide support and comfort to the family as I sit with them. Almost always the conversation turns to a synopsis of their loved one’s life – their strengths, the challenges they overcame, and how they personally have been changed because of their loved one. It has always been my belief that as long as the spirit remains in the body, they can still hear you, so I always encourage the family to share, and to talk to their loved one, even if they are sedated, to say all that they would want to say to them. All those things that they wished they had said and never had the opportunity to until now. Life is too short to live with regret. Say all that you need to say, unburden your heart, and find closure.
When it comes to grief, I see it often. Usually by the time I see the families, they are to the stage of acceptance in the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). However, we grieve often – not only because of death, but because of any loss. It could be a move to a new place and the loss of family, friends and familiarity; the loss of independence as you get older; the loss of a job. It happens when we lose anything meaningful in our lives – even when a friend decides to move to Illinois….
As we get ready to say goodbye to our friend, I find myself running over the experiences that I have had with her: I have enjoyed watching her sign for the deaf on Sunday morning – her passion to minister to this group was awe inspiring; I have enjoyed watching her sing with the worship team, or even in the congregation – it is amazing how she is able to fully engage God in worship, even with hundreds of people watching; I have enjoyed hearing her pray – her quietness of spirit but deep compassion was inspiring; I have enjoyed hearing her laugh at herself – it is a skill I hope to learn someday. She was the first one to give me a hug after I shared my testimony in front of the church. She was the one who encouraged me to share my ramblings and called them a “gift.” She was the one who made me feel like I belonged with this group of believers. When I recall her character I seem to always go to the verse on the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23): the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Isn’t this our friend? She clearly exhibits all of these traits. It is obvious that the Spirit of the Living God works within her. If I had to add to this list, I would add graciousness. Her example of all of these things has made an impact on my life and I am sure it will continue to for years to come. I am blessed for having known her. I am grateful to the Lord for the time that I have had with her. I know that she will be an awesome blessing in her next location and I pray that God will bless her comings and goings until we meet again.
I would have said all of this in person, however, I know it would only come out as tears. So Karen, I want you to know that I am honored to have known you, and blessed to have been touched by you. Thank you for your love. I will miss you.

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