On this day in 2016 my mother died, and a few days later I wrote an article called, When Prayer Doesn’t Move Mountains. The comment section was filled with notes of sympathy and condolences which I greatly appreciated. I was amazed I could write an article right after my mother died. I always thought when my mother died I would just roll up into a little ball and lay there till Jesus came. But I didn’t. I did not become dysfunctional- or at least not anymore dysfunctional than I already was. I was amazed that I not only could exist and survive but I was actually productive and thriving. Sure there were a lot of tears and heartache. I remember wanting to tell my mother that my mother died. After all whenever something bad happened I would always share it with her. But I couldn’t share this with her. But I also remember driving between Bible studies soon after she died, and an almost euphoric feeling came over me when I realized my mother died and I was going to survive. I wasn’t going to roll up into a little ball and just lie there after all! Just days after returning from the funeral, I went out for pizza with some friends. I found myself laughing and enjoying myself. Then as I walked to my car a feeling came over me. Am I allowed to be having this much fun yet?
My mother Sara, and myself.
You may or may not be able to identify with my thoughts and feelings. I have found that we all grieve differently. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, at least within reason, I feel I need to share my experience, because I do not grieve the way so many other people say that we grieve. In recent conversations I have found I am not alone. I am not aiming to be judgmental or invalidate anyone’s grieving process. I just want to share my experience and why I have so much hope. Here are some ways I and many others do not grieve the way the popular society seems to think we all grieve.
“My mother enjoyed her life before I was born, and I can enjoy my life after she is gone.”
When I read memes on Facebook about how that person would give anything to talk to their dead loved one, I cannot relate with that. Sure right after my mother died I wanted to tell my mom that my mom died, but that emotion did not stay with me. Why? I remember talking to a friend who’s mother died several years before mine. Back then I asked my friend how she found the strength to go on. While she loved her mother she said something I had never thought of before. She said, “My mother enjoyed her life before I was born, and I can enjoy my life after she is gone.” At first it sounded kind of cold but it makes a lot of sense. My mother enjoyed her life before I was born because she had Jesus in her life. I soon realized after I lost my mother that as much as I loved my mother, I live for Jesus. My mother taught me to live for Jesus. While I loved my mother dearly and can’t wait to see her in the resurrection I can continue living a happy, fruitful and productive life because I live for Jesus. Hence, I don’t wish I could talk to my mother right now. I need to talk to Jesus, and I can!
During a Bible study last week I was talking to a much younger friend who already lost her mother a few years ago. I shared with her that I don’t constantly think, much less talk about my mother being gone all the time, even though many Facebook memes seem to imply we all do. She agreed with me that she does not think about her mother every day either. I don’t mourn her loss on Mother’s Day. I am too busy celebrating all the wonderful mothers in the world today. After my mom died my niece became a mother and she is one the best mothers I have ever seen, and I love her kids like crazy. I am too busy celebrating what I have instead of grieving what I don’t have.
I am enjoying my life while my mother rests, knowing that while she told me stories about people and things that happened before I was born, when Jesus wakes her up I can tell her stories about people and things that happened while she was sleeping. While we both spent a portion of our time on earth together and without each other, we will have all eternity in heaven to spend together!
I don’t need to wish my mother a happy heavenly birthday.
I am alarmed at how many of my friends, even Seventh-day Adventist friends wish their late mothers a happy heavenly birthday on social media. For some reason many think it sounds nice, but there is not one single passage of Scripture that even hints that our dead loved ones are already in heaven. I find comfort in the truth about what happens when you die. In 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Paul tells us to comfort each other with “these words” about the resurrection. Nowhere in Scripture does Paul, Jesus or anyone else tell us that our dead loved ones are in heaven, much less to comfort each other with such words. Again 1 Thessalonians 4:18 tells us to comfort each other with words about the resurrection. It sends chills of joy down my spine when I think about the fact that my mother’s very next thought will be Jesus is coming! My mother is resting and does not know anything. The next thing she knows Jesus will be coming! What a glorious thought! I don’t need to draw comfort from the lies and deceptions of spiritualism when the truth of God’s Word gives me comfort I can depend on.
Our grief is personal and private. I don’t mean to shame anyone for the way they grieve. We all grieve differently. Our relationships are unique and the way we grieve the loss of those relationships is unique. The way we cope and continue to function is unique. While I don’t really mark anniversaries of my mother’s passing, I thought this year it would be a good time to share some hope with others. Regardless what social media memes say, you don’t have to feel sad each and every day. Psalm 23:6 says goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life and that includes the days after a loved one dies. We can live happy, productive lives while looking forward to the resurrection. Regardless what social media memes say, we don’t need to wish our dead loved ones a happy heavenly birthday. We can let our dead loved ones rest, while we comfort each other with words of hope that are actually in Scripture. The words About the resurrection that Paul told us to comfort each other with in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Meanwhile Jesus gives us strength and even joy as we live for Him.