September 16, will be sixteen years ago that my father died. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer in February after a long battle with chronic back pain. The ride that took place between his diagnoses and his home going caused me to lose my faith.
I watched the strongest man I had ever known, my hero go through pain, and physical torture as his body fought and soon lost its battle with cancer. At the time, I believed if there was a God, why was my daddy going through this? His mind was good up to the end (last 2-3 days), he was aware of everything his body was going through. It hurt; it was tormenting to watch, and know that all I could do was stand by, and watch as my daddy died.
My daddy was my Christian parent, why did God take my Christian influence away? Why would I not have a daddy to walk me down the aisle, to be a grandpa to my children? If there was a God, who loved me so much to die on the cross for my sins, why was he taking my daddy? Why would he allow a man of God to go through such torment and pain? Why, if he loved me so much and I was to consider Him my father too, would he let me go through this?
At the age of 19, when all this was going on, I was trying to get ready to take off on my adult life. I had big plans to become a veterinary technician, and train horses. I planned to marry the guy I had been seeing for nearly three years. None of those plans were meant to be, and I had spent nearly the last five years of my life striving, studying, and living to make those plans happen. Then my daddy got sick during Christmas break of my freshman year of college. I dropped out of school, not knowing what was going on, but knowing I couldn’t be the four, nearly five hours away. That did happen to be the best decision I ever made up to that point in my life. It was a decision that grew me to adulthood overnight. It was a sacrifice that was meant to be. Now, I see God’s hand in all this. At the time though, I was afraid everything I strived for had been lost.
January of that year, 1996, my daddy was rushed to the hospital with symptoms of a heart attack, when we found out it wasn’t, we celebrated, but a heart attack would have been better, the chances that he would still be here had it been a heart attack were high. A couple of weeks later, he again was sick and now it was February. He had cancer, and not operable, and pretty much untreatable liver, colon and lymph cancer. He did have surgery to remove a large portion of his colon, and had chemo, but the cancer won out. He died Sept. 16 1996, at 3:50 am on my twentieth birthday.
After his death, I walked away from God. God obviously didn’t care about me. However, six months later, I needed hay for our horses, and our regular supplier was out. He sent me to a man named Brad (who was not a nice guy the first time I met him)…
That entire summer, I bought hay from Brad, and in September we actually went to a movie together…yes, a date.
By January, Brad had ministered to me, and we had dated all fall. We went to church together every Sunday and spent most waking hours together. We were married in March, just about one year after meeting.
Many of the sermons at church that fall and winter were about God’s love for us and that our trials were not God trying to wreak havoc on us, but God trying to build us up. One of the worst things I did during this time is to decide to get my CNA/CMA to be able to work in a nursing home. I loved what I was doing, but it was not a good time for it emotionally. When Brad and I got married, he talked me into applying at a local daycare. I worked there for three years and loved it.
My best advice is to surround yourself with people who love the Lord first, and will encourage and support you. These people will be there for you through thick and thin. They won’t be afraid to tell you during these trials that can put you at your lowest, that only God is going to be there for you, that only God can show you the wisdom and comfort you need to get through it.
I have learned how to be a friend in a crisis. As Christians we are to support, encourage and pray for each other. During a crisis, is not a time to point out every wrong or any wrong. I can’t tell you how huge this is. These friends are willing to point out that God is there with us. That He alone will carry us. That they are praying for us, and they are willing to minister to us through it, with God guiding them. Those are the friends we need at all times, but definitely when we lose a parent.
Losing a parent is one of the hardest things I have ever faced. Turning your back on God is not going to help. In fact, it will put you in a place of near doom. However, if you do, God tends to still work in your life. He puts people He knows can help you there. He works through them to reach you. Our God is amazing, loves us, and will get us through anything, even when we try to turn our backs on Him. From my days of losing my dad, and meeting Brad, God has worked in me. Carried me through highs and lows, and given me strong friendships. I encourage you as a friend who may be watching a friend go through this to watch for the signs of her turning her back on God. Not going to church, being more depressed, and not wanting to be around anyone several weeks to months after the death and other possibly odd behaviors.
Encourage your friend to stay in the Word, listen to praise and worship songs, and listen to scripture are the things that can bring a little light during the dark times. Another thing that has really helped me, is talking to my daddy’s friends. I was afraid to up until the last few years. I now have relationships with these men that are similar to having my daddy with me. I have rebuilt the relationship with my aunt, who is a Christian, which was mutilated during and after my daddy’s death. I can’t tell you how much these relationships mean. The reminiscing that we do is amazing. I don’t get that with my mom who is still living. I needed these relationships long ago, but God found ways recently to help me find these people…social media is a wonderful thing when used correctly.
I also like to keep Bible Verses posted around the house to help me stay focused on His love and comfort for me. Below are a few that can help you through the loss of a parent. I encourage you to make some cards with these verses that a friend can hang in areas of her home to help her remember God’s love is around her.
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
Isaiah 49:14-16 “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. ”
Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Psalm 30:5b “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Isaiah 54:10 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
Psalm 71:20-21 “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.”
Sometimes when we are broken and weary, the last thing you may want to do is look up Bible verses. However, it is most likely going to be the most comfort.
Taking a meal, making time to chat, sending her a card, offer to help her clean or work on a project she wants or needs to get done, remembering the dates that are going to be hard, her birthday, Father’s and Mother’s Day, the day her parent died, their birthdays and more.
Don’t forget about her pain, months or years later. She may not talk much about it anymore, but it is still there. Help her remember special stories and encourage her to share them with you. Help her make a scrapbook, or memory quilt or some other craft.
Betty is a homeschooling farmwife and mother to six children. You can find her blogging at Peace Creek on the Prarie about her life as a homeschool farmwife, and days on the farm. You can keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter too.
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