I’m not ready.
for about 10 years, had suddenly experienced a debilitating stroke. I was in the process of planning to move her to a lovely facility, just a one-minute drive from my house. I was so excited! I wanted to spend her remaining years giving care, spending time, and enjoying her, even though she is no longer the same mother I have known throughout my lifetime. Her condition had already digressed enough that I wasn’t afraid to move her to a new location, so I set the wheels in motion. While my brother and his family have done an amazing job caring for her, I couldn’t wait for my turn.
But now she’s not moving anywhere, except into heaven’s bliss. That’s a way better move. But it’s still hard to accept. I want more, now.
None of us feel ready for eternity, even though God created us for it. Our earthly lives are a race against time, and time always runs out before we can win the race. At least that’s how it feels.
God doesn’t look at death the same way that we do. Psalm 116:15 says: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” My mother is precious to the Lord. And she has completed her mission here. She’s just about ready.
But how do the rest of us get ready for a loved one’s death? I’m no expert. but we’re doing a few things that seem to help temper the loss.
- sharing memories
- sitting with her, almost round the clock
- affirming our love and appreciation to her
- reading Scripture (it’s amazing how many passages talk about heaven and death–I keep stumbling on them when I’m trying to read something perky)
- playing hymns (same themes are in them!)
- reading favorite stories
- washing her face, hands, feet, arms
- changing her sheets and pajamas, trying to keep her comfortable
- lying in bed with her, with my arm around her
- singing to her
- reading through her cards, notes, and letters
- taking pictures of us with her
- looking through photo albums
Movement from this life to the next is a celebration, as much as it is a mourning.
Yesterday, my brother and I sat with a wonderful hospice staff while they explained the assistance they can offer us for mourning, preparing, and coping with our mother’s death. They asked questions and looked startled by our answers. I guess they caught us at a good time. We weren’t heaving sobs or wiping away tears at the moment.
After about 30 minutes, my brother joked, “I’m sorry we’re not more needy. We know where she’s going. We are very sad, but we’re not afraid.”
I added, “While this is hard for us, we are joyful for her. She will be reunited with our dad, whom she hasn’t seen for 47 years.” (Now that was a death without warning.) I continued, “Her faith has sustained her, and our faith is sustaining us. I don’t know how people who don’t have a relationship with God deal with the death of a loved one. We don’t want to lose her, but we are happy for her to end this difficult struggle with dementia and see my dad.”
They smiled at us. We smiled back.
God is good. All the time. He never changes.
While I’ll never be ready to lose her, I know what lies ahead for Mom, and that does bring comfort. And I have the added blessing of being here now with her.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you.