Shortly after lunch, the dreaded phone call came. It was just a few months after our second daughter was born. Seven to be exact.
“Martha, your dad went to be with the Lord this morning.”
My denial said, “You mean granddaddy?” Who was well into his 80’s and in the throes of dementia. He wasn’t ill, but that wouldn’t have been as shocking as the death my healthy, 54 year old, never-sick-in-a-hospital father! She restated the facts.
Then my shock and nurse’s curiosity kicked in. “What happened?”
She passed on the brief details that indicated the most likely details of a sudden heart attack that took his life. They proved to be true later after the required autopsy. The clot was located in the dreaded widowmaker bifurcation of the heart!
We rushed to get up to Florida for the funeral
What followed was a few hours of purposeful rushing…while my husband got tickets for us to fly the short distance to Miami, FL , made arrangements for his classes to be covered and packed. I hurried to wash a load of laundry and get the children’s things ready and tried to process this new information. It was impossible! I was numb. I could not fathom my father as anything but the picture of health!
Within just a couple of hours, we were on the plane from Mandeville to Kingston. Yes, they now had a small connecting airline that we could take to the larger airport. By about 9 PM Eastern time, we were in Ft. Lauderdale. Except for my adult sister who lived there, we all stayed at my mom’s house.
[bctt tweet=”Within just a couple of hours, we were on the plane from Mandeville to Kingston. “]
The days were filled with tears and laughter. I discovered this is common with death, even a sudden one. My youngest sister was 8 at the time. I’m sure she had no realization what had happened in terms of the finality of her loss.
Unfortunately, she did not attend the memorial service. It might have been helpful to her later in life, I’m not sure. My mom never liked the tradition of open caskets, so my dad’s casket was closed…even for the family. Despite the difficulty of it for my sister at the time, I think it would have been helpful to her later on. Of course, we didn’t know it then.
Learning about death is a helpful part of dealing with the loss involved
I didn’t learn until I was processing my own grief much later, that this is very helpful for seeing the person who has died and getting out of our denial. It is especially helpful for a child who just feels they were deserted!
No one looks forward to dying or having a loved one die. But the process of recovery after that death is extremely difficult and painful. I can say that actually seeing the person after they died vs. not seeing them is helpful. Painful, yes. But it is helpful to the process.
So I would recommend that a person not hogtie their family from recovery by saying they don’tt want to be seen after death. Even if the body isn’t on display for the public, allow a private viewing for the family. They need it. They need to see that you died. That it really happened. It is the first step in being able to move on. No, it isn’t pleasant, but it is needed. Of course, it took me quite awhile to learn this and by then it was too late for a do-over.
Ron returned to Jamaica while I stayed a little longer in the U.S.
Ron returned to Jamaica a few days later. We stayed for about 10 days. Then returned. It was December by now. We had done some Christmas shopping in the States. That part of Christmas was ready. All we had to do was the baking. It was a quiet Christmas and by coming back to Jamaica, it seemed we had left the sadness in Ft. Lauderdale behind us.
Of course, it wasn’t true. My mind was still trying to adjust to the loss of my dad. My dreams were full of it. But for some reason, this was our little oasis away from the pain and loss. We had a wonderful Christmas. The new year was going to bring much more dealing with this loss. For now, there was a peaceful lull.
[bctt tweet=”My mind was still trying to adjust to the loss of my dad. My dreams were full of it. “]
I see I need to have a part II to this post. There is too much more about this recovery to share. This is a good place to stop.
Challenge: Have you had a loss that has caused you grief? Where are you in the stage of grieving it? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance? These are not nice neat stages we move to, never to return again. They are much more fluid. We tend to float in and out, back and forth from some, maybe often more than others.
Have you found comfort in Christ, the Psalms, in knowing His plan for you is perfect even if it can be painful at times?