Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 7, 2009

Living with Loss

   It’s been a little more than a month since my beautiful Mom passed away. To say that I miss her would be an understatement. Coming to grips with the fact that I will never see her again or hear her voice on this side of heaven is, without question, the toughest thing of all. I just want to talk with her again. I have read that patients who undergo the amputation of a limb often experience phantom pains or sensations in a limb which is no longer there. That may be the best way to describe the feelings I have when I instinctively reach for my phone to call Mom. Throughout all of the years I have lived away from home, I talked with Mom at least two or three times a week. I loved talking with her because she always made me laugh. I miss her laughter and her humor. But, I also miss her tears. Mom had a compassionate heart and would often cry when I shared stories about my latest initiatives to care for the least of these. Her tears were a sweet affirmation and an encouragement to me to keep investing in those who are less fortunate.

   Over the years I have officiated at lots of funerals and talked with lots of people about living with loss and grief. I have walked quietly beside others after funeral services, in the difficult days after flowers have faded and friends have departed — in the days marked by denial, anger, sadness, and more. And now, I am walking that road. Progress is slow. Some days I take two steps forward and one step back. If I live another fifty years, I know that I will never get over losing my beautiful Mom. My only option is to learn to live with her absence. I’ve already had days when I have been so overwhelmed by emotion that I have cried out to God, asking Him to tell me how I can live the rest of my life with the pain of her absence. And, He has answered by giving me the grace to live through another day. I know that His grace is sufficient and that He will continue to supply what I need, one day at a time.

   Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. It’s the emotional pain we feel when someone we love or something we depend on is taken away. If you do a Google search on the grief process you will find many helpful articles. I do not want to restate what has already been written about loss and grief. Instead, I want to write about how I am dealing with the loss of my Mom at this particular time. Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve nor a specified time table in which to work through our grief. Everyone who grieves will experience similar emotions and reactions but not necessarily in the same way. So, how I am handling my grief is the way I am handling my grief and not a prescription or pattern for others to follow. Here is what I have experienced over the past month.

Realization | The toughest thing for me has been dealing with the realization that I will not see my Mom again on this side of heaven. King David understood this when he lost a child. After the death of his baby he remarked to his servants, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:23). Because I believe the promises of God’s Word, I grieve with hope — believing that my Mom is safe in the arms of the Lord Jesus whom she loved. Mom cannot return to me, but I will go to her one day.

Celebration | One of the things that has helped me through these difficult days is reflecting on all of the great memories I have. I was privileged to enjoy a wonderful and secure childhood with parents who loved each other and who loved each of their children. When my mind is not focused on something else, it defaults to thinking about Mom and all that she did to make my childhood and growing-up years so meaningful. I am thankful for so many good memories to celebrate. Writing about Mom is helping me to work through my grief.

Conversation | I am thankful for all of the friends who have called, written cards and e-mails, and who have personally taken the time to chat with me. So many have shared with me about losing a parent and have testified to how God has helped them. Each of these friends has said the same thing, “It’s been x-number of years, and I still miss my (parent).” I have been encouraged to hear others share and celebrate their special memories. And, I am especially thankful for those who have just listened.

Dedication | I know the things that pleased my Mom and made her happy. It has helped me to rededicate or reaffirm my commitment to those things — all of which are things pleasing to God. I always tried to honor and respect my Mom when she was alive. I am committed to those same values after her death and would not want to do anything to dishonor her memory.

Inspiration | Reading the Scriptures is essential to coping with loss and dealing with grief. I have especially enjoyed reading the Psalms. David and the other writers of the Psalms understood loss, grief, and pain. Their words not only speak to me, they also speak for me. I have taken the words of the psalmists, made them my own, and offered them to God in prayer.

   It has only been a short time since Mom died. I have only taken a few short steps since her death and still have a lifetime to go. I understand that the grieving process takes time and cannot be forced or hurried. I will be patient. And, I am thankful that I do not have to walk this difficult road alone. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me” (Ps. 23:4).


Responses

  1. Thanks for such beautiful insights Omar. Your writings of your Mother contain a thread of joy which is very special.

    Take Care.

  2. Omar~
    Your words in print describe the very words Steve has expressed since his mother’s death a year and half ago. Your mother lives on in your heart and actions. She must have spoken these words at one time: “For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

    May God’s words bring you comfort,
    Celia

  3. Omar, my heart aches for you in your grief, for I have known loss, my husband first, then both parents. I know the feeling of suddenly becoming a grown-up orphan. We know it’s coming, in the natural order of things, but still when it happens, we’re shocked.

    I’m very, very sure that your mother was and still is exceedingly proud of you, grateful to God for allowing her to be your mother. I’m sure she beseeches God daily on your behalf, to give you courage and strength and your most formidable tool of all, your good humor.

    May God continue to bless and comfort you, and please know that your friends at Plymouth Park still pray for you, and cherish our memories of good times spent under your leadership.

  4. Dear Friends…

    Thanks for your kind words. I am learning that words of encouragement take on a new significance in seasons of grief. I appreciate every syllable!

    Blessings,
    Omar~


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