Archive | June 2020

Processing Grief in An Antique Garden

This hay rake stands in the middle of a garden containing other antique farm equipment. Its polished surface contains no rust or dirt. For farmers in the area, it carries fond memories. For me, it stirs up a special memory of joy mixed with a tinge of sorrow.

While we were together for a week, celebrating our 70th birthday, my sister and I visited this place. Having grown up on a farm, the machinery interested us. We skipped along the path, looking at the displays, sharing memories, and bringing one another up-to-date. My brother, who was with us, put his head through one of the old cow stanchions. We all giggled and I took a picture.

Near the end of our walk, something else caught my attention. I noticed my sister was not keeping up with me. This was unusual, as she had always walked faster than me. It seemed hard for her to stand up straight. And her hand had a slight tremble. A little alarm went off in my head. What did these things mean?

I tried to push these changes out of my mind, but I felt some anxiety. Later, I found out these were signs of Parkinson’s disease. For my sister and me, this began a long journey of loss and grief. For her, it ended two weeks ago.

It has not ended for me. Last week, I shared part of this story and my poem of releasing her into the arms of Jesus. I felt the pain of separation. I cried. Her suffering was over. I felt relief and joy. I said to myself, “How well you are doing!”

That was the first week. This second week has been much harder. I’m sharing my story because, for many years, I lacked knowledge about how to grieve in a way that brings deep healing. I’m learning new things. Maybe some of you can relate to this. If so, I hope you will walk along with me in my journey of learning to process grief in a healthy way.

In my growing up years, I learned some helpful lessons about grief and some unhelpful ones. Some emotions were acceptable. Some were not. What did I do with them?

My first poem describes where I was in past journeys of grief. My second poem reflects where I am in this journey.


After the funeral the people go home
Does that mean their grieving is done?
 
For some it seems so, I don’t hear them say
Anything more than “she went away”!
 
They talk of memories that brought them gladness?
What do they do with all of their sadness?
 
They might bury their anger and bottle their tears
Does that mean those feelings disappear?
 
They go back to their jobs and act like it’s over
Don’t lose their temper, have perfect composure
 
Their friends tell them how well they are doing.
Is this really true? Who are they fooling?
 
Are they trying to be “holy”? Trying to look good?
By acting in the ways they were told they should
 
June 23, 2020
Jane Ault

Embrace grief. Do it wisely
Do it gently. Do it kindly
 
When feeling sad, put on red
Celebrate what you had
 
Cling to memories that made you glad
Let go of those that made you sad
 
This may take some time and work
Don’t cover up what occurred
 
Trust the friends you know can help you
Invite them to join you in your venue—
 
Your site of comfort and of safety
Take your time. Don’t be hasty
 
Don’t dump on them your pain or anger
Let Jesus always be your anchor
 
June 25, 2020
Jane Ault

This entry was posted on June 26, 2020. 8 Comments

Finding Comfort in the Midst of Loss


Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. (1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT)

It’s been seven weeks since I’ve written anything on this site. (This is only partly due to the fact I broke my glasses, as previously stated on May 1.) My mind and heart have been occupied with the physical deterioration of my closest kin. On June 11, my twin sister transitioned from this earth to heaven.

She had struggled with Parkinson’s disease for about 12 years. Then, more recently, cancer. I am comforted that her suffering is over. At the same time, I feel lonely and sad. My child-heart wants to believe she is just hiding, playing a game of “hide and seek” like we did when we were children. After a while, my heart will accept the truth. For now, I am not even trying to convince it. I am looking at photos I have of my sister’s smiling face.

I believe she is smiling, and her vision, which had also deteriorated, is perfect. Her weak legs are strong. No more need for a walker. No more difficulty in speaking. She’s singing with a clear and beautiful voice. No more pain. No more suffering.

When my sister was a teenager she heard the story of how Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and yet died as a thief by crucifixion. Why did he endure such injustice? The reason, she heard, was because he loved her. He loved all humanity. His death was (and is) the admission ticket to heaven, the place of perfect love and purity. Being aware of her imperfections and lack of purity, she accepted Jesus’s gift to her. She trusted herself to him and became his joyful follower. She shared this good news with me and I, too, became his follower.

My sister did not fear death. Because Jesus rose from the grave, she knew she would too. Someday that will happen. Meanwhile, I believe her spirit is with him, as he was in her earthly life. She loved to tell others about him.

It was (and I’m sure still is) her desire for everyone to know his wonderful love. If you are not acquainted with him, you can find out what he’s like by reading the stories written about him when he was on earth. These are recorded in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, found in the Bible.

For decades of life, my sister and I shared a common bond of faith in Jesus. It was as I wrote the lines of the following poem, that he gave me the grace to release her into His loving arms.

Sister, you are going home
Your earthly race is almost over
I can hear the angels singing
I can see one at your shoulder
 
We were together in the womb
I was the one who came out first
Now it seems, my closest kin,
Our birth order’s been reversed
 
Though my eyes are filled with tears
In my heart there is a smile
Because of Jesus’ precious promise
I will be with you after awhile.
 
Together, we will bow and worship
Together, praise our risen King
I rejoice in that knowledge
Death has truly lost its sting.
 
I will focus on the joy before you—
No more suffering, no more pain
Reunion with your precious husband—
How could I beg you to remain?
 
Go my sister with my blessing
Do not linger here too long
Know when Jesus calls your name
That your work on earth is done
 
Sister, you are going home
Your earthly race is almost over
I can hear the angels singing
I can see one at your shoulder
 
6/11/2020
Jane Ault