Grief at Christmas

I wrote this elsewhere, but I saw so many tweets last year from people who were going to find last Christmas season difficult due to the loss of loved ones I thought I’d share it again today. After all, this is Christmas and may be we can visit them to share the message of joy.

My friend’s mother was very ill recently. It was very sudden; she is a strong, Irish lady who is unafraid to speak truth and spends her time working for the good of others. She had been through her share of grief, losing her husband too early and a daughter. Yet she had always maintained her faith.

Then all of a sudden one morning my friend was sat at her dressing table preparing for work and started to cry. Her partner asked her what was wrong and all she she could say was “I’ve just had this sudden thought that if my mother goes there will be no one left.”

Being of a generation were there is nothing in the family to spare, all are working outside of the home, she went to work and went to her mother’s afterwards were she found she had been on the floor having suffered a stroke. There was no other warning than this sudden feeling of dread.

In the hospital her mother was growing increasingly worse and she was prepared for her to die, yet asking for our prayers. She left the hospital believing these to be the last few times she would be seeing her mother; however, when she came into the hospital the next morning her mother was sat up in bed, laughing. She spent a brief period of time with her again before she suddenly deteriorated and later passed on.

I was thinking of my experience with a  funeral recently, my sudden conviction that this person was going to heaven, and wondered if this was something I was to give to my friend to comfort her. You see, I believe there are ‘pebbles’ in our life that lead us to God our Father.

In the story of Hansel and Grettle they have been separated from their father, but find their way back by following the pebbles home. For us the pebbles are the moments in life that point to God’s existence. These can be ‘Godincidences’ or just revelation in nature or prayer.

The losing and finding of the children’s father mirrors our faith relationship with God. At times, when things are the most dark, those pebbles become like breadcrumbs, easily scattered by the wind. It also reflects our relationship with God as we feel we have been abandoned by Him, like the children repeatedly left in the dark and frightening woods.

The realisation her mum wasn’t well was an example of a pebble. As a former police officer I’ve delivered many death messages and there have been so many times, without any reasonable explanation, that people have known; have literally stood waiting for the news to come.

As her mother deteriorated I’ve no doubt that this pebble turns into a ‘breadcrumb’ moment for my friend. It’s inevitable to feel this way as you watch your mother slip away. More so when those dying are young. Why doesn’t God answer our prayers is a question posed with such frequency because we want those we love to remain with us. Our prayers are for them to stay.

But this is because we view prayer from the only place we have known; here on Earth. But this isn’t our final destination. As we pray for others to be returned to us so the Father and Jesus pray for us to return to our real Home, in heaven. It’s why Jesus died. It’s why Mary had to watch Him die. Heaven is the best answer to prayer because we get to be with God and with those we love for forever.

So Jesus gives more pebbles to his friends so we can find her way to God in the sadness and be assured of this final destination.

If you are in the dark place of grief it these thoughts may not help you now, but they will. That’s why we have to brave in moments like this and still proclaim the Gospel. The Good News.

Jesus told us He was going before us to prepare the way; that in His Father’s house there are many rooms. He told the disciples this before their breadcrumb moment came. Before His arrest, trial and crucifixion. Before the disciples hid themselves in the upper room. It didn’t comfort them either, when their moment was dark. But there was just enough there that when the women came from the tomb telling them of the Resurrection Peter, who had run away before, ran to the tomb.

Even then it was just a pebble to him; but it gave him enough to think about so that he continued to find his way to God.

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