CHAPTER 10 GRIEF
THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN
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
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
"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
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,"
"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
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
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
Go To: Chapter 11 - Mentally Ill Or Emotional Woundedness
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