CHAPTER 10  GRIEF


                           THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN


                                      By

                                 Phil Scovell

                           Copyright (C) 2003/2007

                             All rights Reserved



                              CHAPTER 10  GRIEF


          He stood respectfully by his mother and listened, without hearing
     the preacher's words.   This was called,  he had learned,  a graveside
     service.  He  stared at the casket,  knowing his father, his  now dead
     father, lay inside.   His hands would  be properly folded, of  course,
     just as they had been at the funeral home.  The funeral home part  was
     called the  viewing of  the body.   He  had, of  course,  been in  the
     funeral home for many hours as friends of the family stopped by to pay
     their  respects.  He had done pretty well with it all, too, not crying
     except for the time he freaked out.

          As  he stood on the other side of  the room, he heard his mom and
     sisters talking but  he wasn't listening; he  was just staring  at his
     father's lifeless body  from across the room.  He  had earlier touched
     the top of one of his  father's folded hands as he lay in  the casket.
     It  was cold, very cold, and  lifeless.  Now he  knew for certain that
     his father was really dead.  At least he thought he knew.

          His dad had died just days before and he didn't know why.   Well,
     they had explained it to him, of course, but he had not understood why
     his father was now  gone.  Oh,  sure, they said he  was in Heaven,  no
     doubt about that,  but nobody could explain  why he was there  and not
     back on earth where he could be the little boys father again.

          In those days,  children were not allowed by hospitals  to go and
     visit any of the  patients in their rooms.  So every time they went to
     the hospital during  those three weeks, he  and his little 7  year old
     sister, had to stay at home with a baby sitter, or if  they went along
     to the hospital, they had to sit by themselves in  the waiting room on
     the ground floor.   So, he had not been allowed to  see his father, or
     even to say goodbye to his father, before he died.  Somehow, this made
     him very  sad  as well  as angry.   This,  unfortunately, he  wouldn't
     realize until almost 40 years later.

          How  well the little boy remembered the day his dad died.  It was
     when he  came home from school one day that he was told by his mother,
     the room  full of friends seated all around  the living room, that his
     father had died that very day.  He didn't understand death, of course,
     but he knew enough  to realize his father  was never coming back.   He
     was alone now, with three sisters and a mother, and he had no idea how
     to act or feel.

          As  he stared at  his father's  inert body  in the  funeral home,
     laying stretched out so  neatly in the open casket, dressed  in a nice
     suit,  he stared fixedly on his father's crossed hands.  Suddenly, one
     of his hands moved and he burst into tears.  His older sisters and mom
     came hurrying over  and asked what  was wrong.   The little boy  tried
     explaining that  he saw  his daddy's  hand move.   He just  had to  be
     alive!  He  knew it hadn't really moved  and that he had  willed it to
     moved but everyone  did their best to  explain how his dad  was really
     dead  and that he could  not have moved.   It would,  again, be almost
     another 40 years before  he learned that his father really wasn't dead
     after all.

          A  50 year  old  man stood  near the  casket of  his 80  year old
     mother.  She  had just died  of a stroke a  few days earlier.   It had
     taken  her 9  agonizing days  for her  to die  in hospice  care.   Not
     agonizing for  her, since  they kept her  fully sedated  and regularly
     administered her pain  medications, but certainly agonizing  for those
     who remained and came to watch her die.

          It was a typical beautiful  Colorado November morning.  The fresh
     crisp mountain air felt good to  breathe.  It was a perfect day  for a
     funeral, if there was such a  thing, and the people gathered near  the
     casket  prepared to  be lowered  into an  underground volt  where dirt
     would cover  it.  The sun had  just slowly risen over  the Rockies and
     provided the little  bit of warmth needed  to keep the chill away.   A
     friend, knowing the woman's middle name was Rose and that her favorite
     flower was the rose, had purchased a spray of beautiful roses to place
     in her casket.

          Her pastor offered a brief review of her life in a pleasant voice
     and then silence fell.

          Soon  a man  began  talking  in a  conversational  tone.   "These
     beautiful birds are called homing pigeons.  They  know where they live
     and  have no problem finding their way home.  When I release them from
     this first cage, they  will home in on their  permanent dwelling place
     and will fly effortlessly and gracefully to where they live."

          Bending over,  the man released  the latch and the  birds waddled
     out of there cage.  Then, almost in unison,  they flapped effortlessly
     and  gracefully into  the air.    With their  wings beating  the fresh
     mountain  breeze, they  rose into  the morning  sunlight.   Rounding a
     nearby tree, they turned and headed off; rising higher and higher into
     the blueness of the bright Colorado morning sky.  Soon they  were lost
     to  sight.   As the  man  stood and  listened, he  would have  given a
     million dollars that day to have seen them with his own eyes.

          The man was  speaking again.  Pointing to a single remaining bird
     in a smaller cage, he said, "Some of us are left behind to continue on
     but when it is our turn, we will know exactly where all of our friends
     are and who  has passed on before us."  Bending down, the man released
     the latch on the  cage and the lone pigeon slowly made  his way out on
     to  the low cut grass in front of his  cage.  "As with the one who has
     recently  died," the  man continued  speaking, "we  are freed  to join
     those who have gone on before us.  It is now time for our loved one to
     join the others."

          Just then, the single pigeon flapped his wings and sword into the
     air.  Strangely  enough, he took the  exact same route  his companions
     had taken moments before.   He knew the way.   Winging his way  around
     the  same tree, he began to climb, higher and higher, soon to catch up
     with those going home.

          Comments On Grief

          This is something  a part of  the human experience  or so we  are
     told.   Furthermore, it is  strongly suggested that Christians  have a
     leg  up  on this,  because,  if  their  loved  one was  a  Born  Again
     Christian, then there's  no need  for grief  or at least  no need  for
     prolonged grief.   A  day or two,  perhaps a week,  is plenty  for the
     spiritual.  Unfortunately, even adults  facing the grief generated  by
     the loss of a loved one are told to just "Learn to  live with it," or,
     "Time   heals   everything."      This   worthless,   heartless,   and
     compassionless  advice  is   generally  from  those  who   have  never
     experienced the loss that comes  from the death of  a loved one or  by
     those super  Christians who have  experienced it  successfully by  the
     suppression and repression  of their horrible feeling of  loss.  Those
     who  are left alone, or those who   have little children to raise, see
     this loss, or should I say,  feel this loss, quite differently.   Why?
     Because  they know,  after all  the friends  and relatives  leave, the
     truth of loss by death comes crashing back in upon their lives.   They
     have to be strong, however, lest other  Christians think they are weak
     in their faith.

          The 11 year old boy and  the 50 year old man in my  story was me.
     My  parents are both  in Heaven now  and no longer  do they physically
     suffer.  I  was 50 years old,  however, before I  was set free of  the
     grief I carried from the loss of my father.

          I sat in the large church and  watched my mother, about two weeks
     following my  father's death, stand  to her feet, when  the invitation
     for testimonies  was given.  I woodenly sat  and heard her empty words
     as she spoke.   She probably felt  the necessity to give  a testimony.
     My dad, after all, was a preacher and  he had been the chairman of the
     deacon's  board of  the large  Baptist  church we  attended.   I often
     wonder  now, what  that pastor  and  those deacons,  and the  thousand
     friends  and  relatives who  attended  the  church service  where  his
     funeral was conducted, would have thought  if they had known my father
     suffered from depression and had even been on medication for it.  Back
     then, in the fifties, such was never even talked about  by Christians,
     and  those who were treated  medically were, at  the best, weak minded
     Christians, and at the worst, spiritual failures.

          Mom was saying something about how the  Lord had blessed her with
     two children and that  she would continue serving the Lord.   That was
     all I remember hearing.  Everyone thought it was a wonderful testimony
     except for me.  I simply did not understand what she was talking about
     nor  did I feel she believe a single  word she said.  I knew it wasn't
     true  because I lived at home  with her and knew  that she was hurting
     and nobody really cared about us since we were now a broken family.

          "Phil, your  dad  is in  a better  place now,  son.   Isn't  that
     wonderful?"

          "Son, we don't understand it but God called your dad home."

          "Philip, God's  ways are  not our ways  and some  things we  just
     can't understand now.  Your dad is in a better place, though."

     "He's better off now.  No suffering in Heaven, you know!"

          "Your  dad is  just  rejoicing  with the  angels  in Heaven  now,
     Philip.  Don't let this get you down."

          "I know your  dad suffered terribly in the hospital,  son, but he
     isn't suffering now."

          Let me tell you the true story.

          Dad went to  work one day  and felt fine.   Half way  through the
     morning, he told his boss that he wasn't feeling right.  "Willie," his
     boss said, "you look terrible.  Get  over to the infirmary right now."

          Dad began making his way across the building to the infirmary but
     it  was a long ways away.  As  he walked, he felt worse and started to
     run, nearly  falling at one  point, but catching himself  before going
     completely  down.  As he burst  through the doorway into the infirmary
     where the nurse was, he announced he was ill and began vomiting blood.

          Rushing him  to the hospital  via ambulance, they lost  his pulse
     twice,  we were told, and thought he  had died.  In the hospital, they
     began giving him  blood transfusions because, for  some unknown reason
     at  the time, he  was bleeding internally.   Over the  course of three
     weeks, they gave him 21 pints of blood.  It never helped.

          After a day  of being in the  hospital, dad called our  pastor to
     come  and  visit him.   They  had my  mother leave  the room  for some
     reason.  When  the pastor left, and  mom entered dad's room  again, he
     told her that  he had planned his  funeral and that  he knew he  would
     never leave the hospital alive.

          Eventually, doctors removed more than half of  his stomach trying
     to stop the bleeding but it didn't help.  Dad began going into violent
     convulsions.  Once he  told my mom, "I want to die and nobody will let
     me."

          By the  end of the  first week, he  was in a  coma and two  weeks
     later, the  hospital called mom and told her,  "You better get up here
     as fast as  you can; your husband is dying.  He probably won't survive
     the day," they told her.

          Mom called her  oldest sister  to meet  her at the  hospital.   I
     often wonder what that drive to  the hospital must have been like  for
     my mother that day.

          When  she arrive,  she stood  by his bedside  and sang  hymns and
     spoke of her  love for him.   She told  him not to  worry about  their
     children because she would take care of them.

          Then she said, "Willie.  You said once that nobody would  let you
     die in this place.  It's time for you to go home to be with the Lord."

          Dad had Ivs in his legs because the veins in his arms were nearly
     collapsed.  Mom  slowly and gently removed the needles  from his legs.
     She and her sister then continued singing quietly  to him and listened
     to his breathing eventually slow.

          Sensing a  presence, mom looked  up.  A  man was standing  on the
     other side  of the bed  directly across  from her.   It was Jesus!   I
     asked her once  if Jesus appeared  ghostly or hazy,  or unreal in  any
     way.  "Oh, no," she  replied.  "He was as real  as any human body.   I
     could have reached across the bed and touched him.  He was that real,"
     she concluded.

          "You have come to take him?" mom said out loud.

          Jesus said, "Yes.  I have come to take him home."

          Mom stepped back  and she and her sister watched  and listened as
     dad's breathing grew slower and  longer until he stopped breathing all
     together.  He was instantly in Heaven.

          After learning of his death, the house never felt the same to me.
     My yard, where I spent so much time playing, seemed somehow  empty and
     I couldn't explain it.   I mowed our large grassy yard as always, just
     as dad had  taught me, but I was  alone as I pushed  the mower through
     the ocean of green.  The house, even from the outside, didn't look the
     same  to me either.  I washed the  car, his car, just as he had taught
     me but I was alone and he was no where to be found.

          Going back to church was weird.  I  didn't know how to act around
     my  friends and  my  friends didn't  know  what to  say  so they  said
     nothing.

          Returning to  school after  about a  week, I  was given about  33
     dollars from the kids at school.  They had collected it.  I was amazed
     at such a gift but somehow it didn't seem right.

          It  was probably  a week  following  my father's  funeral that  I
     decided  I would get out and do something with friends.  I walked down
     to Danny's house and saw him, along with his brother, playing in a big
     pile  of crispy fall leaves they had raked  up.  I joined them without
     saying a word.   We played and  rolled and covered ourselves  with the
     crunchy leaves and played like everything was normal but it wasn't.

          Finally,  Danny's older  brother, Chris,  said,  "Phil, I'm  sure
     sorry  about your  dad."   I  can't remember  what  I said  but  I was
     grateful because someone finally broke the ice.

          A few days later, I asked my mom if I could ride the three blocks
     over to the Mcpherrson's house to play with Mike and Steve.  My father
     car  pooled with their dad and my father  had led Bob to the Lord many
     years earlier.

          I remember we were playing  tetherball when Steve, the younger of
     the  two boys said, "Phil,  I'm sorry that  your dad died."   Again, I
     can't recall  what I  said but  I appreciated  his remarks because  it
     helped me begin to face the deep loss I felt.

          Soon things returned to almost normal.  My little sister and I no
     longer slept  with mom at night  as we had the first  couple of weeks.
     Play  was back  to  normal, or  so  it seemed,  church  was no  longer
     difficult to attend, and I think I was happy again.

          One day, while running around the grassy elementary playground, I
     stopped to tie my tennis shoe.  When I stood, I absent mindedly looked
     up into the sky.  I loved watching the clouds, thunderheads rolling in
     across the  expansive Iowa skies  bringing their  rain, birds  winging
     their way around the ubiquitous blueness of space, and the sun blazing
     overhead.  I loved the sun.  I couldn't study it carefully, of course,
     due to its  brightness but somehow, and for some reason, I love seeing
     it climbing  into the  sky in the  early mornings and  slowly dropping
     down below  the horizon;  its translucent  illuminated colors  painted
     across the vastness.

          Noticing  the few puffy  white clouds that  hung in the  sky that
     day, something seemed  wrong.  I looked  down at the green  grass, but
     couldn't see  them any longer.  I looked back  to the white clouds and
     there  they were.   I twisted my  head away  from the clouds  into the
     blueness of  the  noon day  sky.   They were  gone.   The clouds  were
     floating slowly across  the expanse and  I stared at them  once again.
     They  were  back.   Tiny  faint  brown  spots  floated in  my  vision.
     Shrugging my shoulders, I ran off.

          In the classroom, I noticed the brown spots again when looking at
     the white paper  laying on my desk.  Looking up  at the blackboard, it
     was actually  a greenboard, the spots were gone.   On the paper?  They
     were back.  I mentioned it  to mom that night after school.   She made
     no comment but I felt she was worried.

          A day or so later, the eye specialist confirmed nothing was wrong
     but  prescribed drops.  Odd.  If nothing  was wrong, why the drops?  A
     week later, the faint brown spots in my vision were now dark brown and
     swirling thick clouds blocking my vision.   I couldn't even see the TV
     through the swirling brown mess before my  eyes so I put a small piece
     of paper  under my glasses so  I could watch  TV out of my  other eye.
     Six months later, after a dozen eye operations, I was totally blind.

          My experience of going blind  blocked out everything about my dad
     or so I thought.  I had many new things upon which to focus.  I had to
     leave  home  during  the  week  and live  and  go  to  an  educational
     institution for  the blind.  I had  to learn how to use  a white cane.
     Braille was  a totally  new way to  read and it  took months  before I
     could even read 90 words per minute.   I never did learn to read  very
     fast even as a sighted person but this was ridiculous.

          Fast forwarding  through my life,  I found myself  approaching 50
     years  of age.   My wife and  I were both  totally blind  and had been
     married over 30 years and we had  three grown married children, and at
     that time, four grandchildren, soon to be 6, and all of them could see
     normally.  I had preached, pastored a couple of small churches, taught
     Sunday school,  traveled as  a guest speaker  in churches  for several
     years, served  as an assistant  pastor in western Colorado,  started a
     high  speed cassette  duplication  business  for  churches  and  other
     preachers, and  overall, felt  life had  been  ok.   I somehow  wasn't
     satisfied, and as the number 50 approached, I took stock of my life.

          Many nights, over the years, I had lain on my back, crying myself
     to  sleep, and thought  of my dad,  wishing he were alive,  so I could
     talk to him and ask for his advice.  Now I was 50 and as I examined my
     life, I  felt as  if  nothing was  there.   I was  a failure.   I  had
     accomplished nothing and I never would.   Somehow, deep down inside, I
     knew my dad had felt the same way.  Fear and anxiety and panic attacks
     rushed in upon me like an angry summer storm.  I  began hearing voices
     and  they often told me to kill myself  because I was a failure.  Then
     it got worse.

          Sitting in a man's office one  day, we were praying together.   I
     was there because I had emotionally crashed and burned.  The memory of
     my father came to my thoughts as we prayed.  Although I had never been
     to see my dad, I saw him in my mind's eye now.  He was unconscious and
     laying on his back.  I could hear, almost hear, what he was saying.  I
     looked to my right  and saw a illuminated  man.  "This is your  father
     now," I heard my dad say.

          The man, whom I could not see  clearly, but knew was there, said,
     "I am your Father now."

          I  felt  it so  strongly, it  would have  been impossible  not to
     believe.   Isaiah 9:6 theologically, and  experientially, now was more
     real to me than  ever, and I  understood its meaning.   For unto us  a
     child is  born, unto us  a son is  given: and the government  shall be
     upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
     The Mighty God, The EVERLASTING FATHER, The Prince of Peace.


          Then he said, "Your father is not dead."

          I knew, as I had never known  before, exactly what He meant.  Dad
     was alive in Heaven with the Lord  and I was hearing the Lord speak to
     me at that moment.  Although I  knew this theologically already, now I
     knew it because I was presently experiencing it and from the  absolute
     Authority of the universe.

          "You must say goodbye to your dad now," I heard Him saying.

          Tears came to my eyes and the emotions of a little boy overflowed
     into reality.  I had never gotten to say goodbye to my  earthly father
     and now the Creator of all things was giving me that chance.

          My prayer partner was talking but I  interrupted him and told him
     what the Lord had said.  "Go ahead and pray, then," he encouraged, "in
     your own words."

          My body began to shake.  I knew I was a grown man but at the same
     time I felt  11 years old and I  cried a 11 year old  boy's tears as I
     prayed.   "Goodbye, dad," I  said, hardly able to  speak.  It was over
     and I was free.  I had a new Father now and one  who would never leave
     me nor forsake me; He could never be taken away.

     COMMENTS ON GRIEF

          Grief is  so misunderstood by  the church today, few  people ever
     are  freed from  its devastating  effects.   It is  possible, however,
     because I experienced  it after nearly four decades  of suffering from
     it.   Furthermore, if you would, as Paul Harvey says, like to read the
     rest of the story, read my booklet called, "I Flew Kites  With Jesus."
     It will  explain how the Lord made  up the difference of  all the lost
     years I had without a dad.

          Those suffering from grief due to the  loss of a loved one should
     keep one thing  in mind and that  is, sorrow isn't  the same thing  as
     grief.  You can cry, as I did writing this testimony, because you feel
     sadness due to the  physical and emotional absence of the  one who has
     gone on before us.  Grief, on the other hand, isn't something you have
     to live with and  it won't go away with  time no matter who tells  you
     otherwise.  Jesus can  heal the pain of  grief for you and He  does it
     through a simple thing called  prayer.  If you  need to know how  this
     form of prayer works, call me.


                              End Of Chapter 10


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