Death is the saddest part of our life. In death, we experience mountains of mixed emotions that boil down to one – grief. The pain that someone endures when their loved ones depart is unbearable, heart-wrecking, and full of anguish.
I was only 12 years old when I saw how my biological mother went to sleep forever. On November 29, 1997, I experienced unbearable grief thus far in my life.
The Encounter of the Grief
My mom and I awoke on Saturday morning. Her illness had rendered her bedridden. I overheard her having hiccups for some strange reason. So I paused fixing our bed and rubbed her chest. Then I asked her, Ma? Is there anything bothering you? Would you like to drink some water? She cannot speak. Sadly, because of her illness, she was unable to talk. So, my mom nodded as she looked at me. So I took some water and assisted her in drinking a little.
Her hiccups had stopped, so I told her, “OK, let me just finish our bed, and papa will be home soon.” He may have something for us to eat for breakfast. But, she started having hiccups again while I was fixing the bed. So I took her hands in mine and noticed she was cold. So I asked her, “Ma, are you cold?” Let me cover you with a blanket so you don’t get cold.
Because her hiccups were becoming more audible, I began to panic, and my heart began to beat faster than usual. But I tried to remain calm in front of her. Please, Lord, let my papa come home now, I begged. I need his assistance. We need him. My mom is in desperate need of him right now.
Papa arrived safely home just in time! I overheard him conversing with some of our neighbors’ kids while attempting to open our gate to park his tricycle taxi in our small front garage. I dashed outside to greet him and exclaimed, “Pa!” Come in quickly, and look at Mom! He looked me in the eyes and ran inside our studio-style home, where he saw my mom.
Jem, quickly boil some water and hand me a face towel. So that’s what I did. While I am watching them, he speaks calmly to my mom. I couldn’t understand a word! My papa continues to talk while wiping a hot towel across my mom’s face and arms.
Come here, Jem, and take my and your mother’s hands. Let us pray now. So that’s what we did. My mom was crying and smiling as she looked at my papa and me. After the prayer, she falls asleep for good. My papa then wiped her eyes, closed them, and hugged her tightly.
I was stunned!
Healthy Ways to Grief with Graceful Acceptance
Grief due to the loss of a loved one is a painful process. Although I knew there would come a time when my mom would leave us, and I had to learn to accept that due to her illness, the experience and emotions were still intense during her death.
That was a new experience for me. I’d never held a dying person’s hand before, and it was heartbreaking to see my mom going through it. But even so, the experience taught me a better understanding of death and grief. So let me share with you these healthy ways to grief with graceful acceptance.
#1. Take time to mourn
Let’s recall the story of Lazarus, in which Jesus wept over his death. It’s perfectly normal to be sad when loved ones, friends, or anyone else close to us die. The mourning and grieving process helps us in accepting the unacceptable.
I remembered my papa at the time. He was alone in our back kitchen, in the dark, grieving during the funeral. I sat beside him on a couple of occasions. And we allowed ourselves to be consumed by silence, drowned in pain and misery.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
#2. Contemplate how they influenced your life
Contemplate and reflect on how they influence your life positively. For example, what are the happy and sad moments you have experienced with them, and what did it teach you?
When it came to school, my mom was quite strict. She was extremely enthusiastic about my school and is always willing to assist me with my homework. She was a spiritual and modern-conservative woman. During church services, she brings me with her. She also explained the religious speeches during the church service in the most simple terms a child could comprehend. We also read bible stories! She loved to cook for us. She was an entrepreneur.
All of this began to deteriorate when I was 7-8 years old, following her first stroke. Her mental and physical health began to decline as a result. She was able to do so until she became bedridden. Communications and valuable information were scarce during those days. My papa and I were helpless. Our financial capability began to deteriorate as well until we learned to live frugally.
I began learning how to cook rice, which is a staple food in the Philippines. Then I started hand washing and drying my clothes and assisting my papa with some housework, including cleaning and feeding my mom.
One of my worst nightmares was cleaning my mom right after she pooped. My papa was not at home because he was at work. And I was a skinny kid alone with my bedridden mom, but I decided to clean her up because I didn’t want her to be smelly. I want her to look fresh, neat, and have a good smell once my papa comes home from work.
It was tough. This story is just a tiny fraction of our rough days when my mom was still alive, battling her illness.
Her death marked the start of a new chapter in our lives. Her death was a massive relief for us three! My papa, mom and me. She will no longer suffer. We no longer see her suffer. Her death gave us a new beginning!
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalms 147:3
She raised me to be a strong kid and a strong woman. She instilled in me the value of faith. She taught me that life could be difficult and unfair, but it can also be beautiful and full of love and hope. She was an inspiration to me while I was studying. I finished my university degree with the help of my papa and a few kind people. I’m sure she’s thrilled, proud, and grateful.
#3. Continue their advocacy
I’m inspired to be able to continue my mom’s advocacy. She had the sweetest heart and soul, so I’m doing my hardest to emulate her. I’m sharing whatever she taught me previously that can help others learn.
As a result, I encourage you. Consider what they are advocating for. What are some of the activities that your departed loved one enjoyed doing and that inspire others? And in their memory and in honor of our Creator, continue their advocacy!
In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway, there is no death. – Proverbs 12:28
#4. Remember them for the sake of God
Keep them close to your heart at all times. Always keep them in mind, not just on special occasions, but daily for the sake of our Creator, God Almighty.
In the context of remembering them, continue the positivity that they instilled in you. Just like what I have mentioned in item number three, practicing their advocacy means remembering our departed loved ones.
And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
#5. Seek help if needed
Remember that your health is determined not only by what you eat but also by what you think and say. Because death is inevitable for everyone, it is natural for us to move on in due course.
On the other hand, I hope that no one reaches this point, requiring the assistance of specialists such as doctors and therapists. Suppose your grief progresses to chronic stress or depression, which harms your way of life. In that case, it is strongly advised that you seek professional help. They will undoubtedly guide and assist you in recovering from the heartaches and pain you are experiencing due to the tragic loss of a loved one. Don’t be scared. You can and will succeed.
My mom’s death, without a doubt, has taught me a great deal. Life lessons that aren’t taught in schools or any seminars. One of them is grief with graceful acceptance. It was especially difficult if you had lost someone close to you, such as your parents, child, or spouse. But I kept going! Today, I became a stronger woman who is optimistic about the future.
It also taught me how short life is. So, let us make every day an opportunity to strengthen our bonds with our living loved ones. Of course, we will have unavoidable arguments from time to time due to differences. But let us not let these fights become barriers to our love for one another. Let us keep making beautiful and learning memories with our living loved ones, family, and friends!
Some Inspiring Bible references:
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. – 1 Thessalonians 4:14
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23
For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. – Romans 14:8
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