Sisters and Grief


Sisters and Grief

me visiting with my mom--one of the good memories me visiting with my mom--one of the good memories

This has been one of the fastest weeks of my life, because my sister was here from another state visiting us and has gone. It has been so glorious to have her here though. Phone calls just don't cut it, after a certain length of time. We gotta' have the real thing. The skin-on-skin hug. The eyeball experience.

One thing that has bonded us even closer, if that were possible, was our experience of caring for our parents three years ago. Both of them, who lived just 50 miles from me, passed away from cancer within the same year. We sisters saw more of each other in that one year than we probably had in all our adult lives. Both of our personal lives were on hold, due to the extensive care they both needed.

And it's hard to get past those harrowing memories, back to the really good ones. We try to focus on the times when Mom and Dad were relaxing in their comfy yard swing, visiting with whoever was around. They both loved flowers, growing things, and watching the birds. Their yard was a showplace. Cars would slow down in front of their house to gawk at their landscaping. My dad was one of the few who fed the birds and squirrels all year round, even in the harsh Iowa winters.

Yes, we have lots of good memories to fall back on, and maybe since we sisters have had this first "in person" visit since our caregiving days, we can now dwell more on their non-sick days, and enjoy more of those good memories. I'm hoping it will mean a positive shift in our grief process.

Speaking of grief, I sometimes feel like the only person who will grieve her husband twice. I grieved the losing of his former self before the accident thirteen years ago, and someday I will grieve again the person he became after the accident. I can't even imagine what that will feel like.

But as I ponder it, I know I won't be the only one. There are lots of us caregiving spouses out there who are becoming experts on grief. Even though it's different for every person, the common emotions are there. And even if my sister isn't around to share it with me, it will help to know that there are other caregiving "sisters" who will be just as helpful in the sharing.

These verses in I Thessalonians 4 have meant a lot to me through all this, and are a reminder of the need to comfort one another. "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren , concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope...Therefore comfort one another with these words." (v. 13 and 18)

Hope is the most healing word I can think of when you grieve.

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