Like many who have gone before me, I’m facing the reality of my mom’s imminent death. For the past 18 months she has been battling brain cancer and is now in the last days of her struggle. Through this whole process, people have been asking me how I’m doing, and I don’t always know what to say. I figured I would share some of my feelings here, not just as a response, but to help process my feelings.
- I am fine. I truly mean it when I say that. But it does not mean I am not sad. It does not mean I am not grieving. It simply means that in that moment I am ok… I am fine. It also means that maybe I do not know how I am supposed to feel or process in the moment, so I simply offer up a statement that is an over simplified expression for an incredibly complex set of feelings.
- I am often surprised by grief. So far, I have not had an overwhelming flood of emotions overtake me, but grief has a way of catching you off guard when you’re not expecting it. For instance, I was recently confronted with the reality that I will not eat my mom’s cooking again. I was grieved to hear my daughter say that she wanted my mom to teach her how to quilt or make jam. Grief will find me in the strangest places, and while I’m not completely overwhelmed by emotion, those moments take their toll.
- I feel conflicted. I love my mom, but also have been praying that God hastens her departure. I want my mom to continue on in life, but also do not want her to suffer anymore. I want her to stay, but want her to let go. I want her to experience life with her grand-daughters, but I also want her to be with Jesus. I’ve lived in this tension throughout this whole process.
- I feel guilty. Because of the previously stated conflict. Because of the lack of overwhelming emotion. Because of the sense of relief I feel knowing the end is near. I know this is normal, but it is just a strange reality.
- I am distracted. I have a hard time being focused and productive.
- I am tired. Just tired of this whole process.
- I am confused. Each time I leave my mom’s room I do not know if I should say good-bye, thank you, I love you, see you later or some other salutation. It is rather surreal to ponder the difference between good-bye and see you later.
- I am realizing that Death is not natural. The reason this is so difficult, the reason for the uncertainty and guilt is quite simple: we were not created to experience death. God didn’t create us with death in mind. Death, for humanity, is a result of sin entering the world. Death is the enemy. While we have nothing to fear because Jesus has conquered death, this isn’t something I’m naturally equipped to deal with.
- I am encouraged. My mom loves Jesus. She does not fear death, and because of our shared faith in Jesus, there really are no “goodbyes.” It really is just a “see you later.” Later just might be a while.
- I am encouraged. I have been incredibly encouraged to see the church, the body of Christ act in such a tremendous way. I live a few hours away, but it has been such a comfort, and incredibly encouraging to know the church is caring for my mom and dad. It is a beautiful thing to see the church do what Jesus has asked her to do.
- I am encouraged by simply watching my dad. In the midst of great grief and loss, he is caring for his wife in a way that truly honors Jesus. I know many of my friends have taken note on how to honor Jesus from his example. By seeing him care for his wife even when it requires incredible sacrifice. It is pretty incredible to watch a guy love his wife like Jesus loves the church.
I know many have asked, I know many will ask. It is not an easy season. I don’t really like it much, but I certainly am learning.