This is the first Easter I have experienced without my parents. Dad passed away this year, March 7, 2012, about a month ago. Mom had passed away in April, 2005. I am now “an orphan.” Although, I had heard this term before by grown adults, it did not hit me until Easter weekend. I thought, “I wonder if this is the feeling that those who went to check on Jesus felt on Good Friday?” This had been prompted by a church friend the weekend before–who asked our group to think about how the disciples, and Marys, must have felt when then had discovered Jesus had drawn his last breath?
Our church group had experienced the death of both young mother and her unborn child –niece of one of our members, about 3 weeks after kindly helping me through some sad times dealing with my Father’s death. What a tragic shock! Just as the disciples wondered, ” Where was Jesus, their beloved, and what was to become of them, without Jesus? And Jesus even said at one point, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” while on the cross. The husband of this young wife, her parents, relatives, and friends must have wondered, “Where was God in all this?” Her husband wondering, “What will I do with my life, raising our three year old by myself?” Grief is there for a reason. It does show love to grieve that person that you laughed with, spent meals with, traveled with in time and space.
The grieving process is something that I have been told by the experts involves stages: Elizabeth Kubler- Ross has 5 stages, another website listed 7 stages: Five Stages: 1) denial, 2) anger, 3) bargaining, 4) depression, 5) acceptance; and Seven Stages version is: 1) shock and denial, 2) pain and guilt, 3) anger and bargaining, 4) depression, reflection, loneliness, 5) upward turn, 6) reconstruction-working through, 7) acceptance and hope. There seems to be no speeding through, and the time frame is different as there are different finger prints on each of our hands, in dealing with the grief process. Also, the pathway is not usually linear, but more spiral in form, in and out of phases. So, patience is in order, both of the individual going through the process and the persons who are friends and family.
We are all reminded that we are on earth for a short while, all of us, and then in a blink of an eye–we are then in eternity. How we spend our time, love, gifts, talents here now is important to God. Jesus resurrected and there are those who saw Him on the Road to Emmaus later down the line in time. Resurrection–what a complex concept. How are our loved one’s presence resurrected in us? Are there bits of their energy still within and manifesting in us? What is all this talk about light in the Bible? What does God want us to resurrect here on earth? Is there hope after the physical death? I believe in hope and love. Does that hope and love continue into eternity? It’s hard to describe exactly why at this point in time that I believe in hope and love, but I just do–it’s been a “given” for many years in my life. I do have ongoing love in my life from fellow humans, from my dear husband, dear grown children, dear friends, and I experience God’s love— daily in some way, especially when I spend the time to be in sacred space through contemplative prayer time and acknowledge my Maker.
I also learn daily through reading an email sent to me from, gratefulness.org (my spiritual guidance counselors). I learn about new poets and mystics just about daily by spending some “head time” reading their works. I read the Bible daily–if not directly through books, I read. Bible quotes are often in the books I read. When I have energy to do active sacred work, I learn from service projects and transform, and hope that I can be the heart and hands that God wants me to be. There was one such project, the one I was involved in before my Dad’s death–a petition drive to reduce pay day loan rates from average 500% to 36% here in Missouri (lower interest would be even better actually, but this is doable). It’s a justice-love issue to help those who too often get in desperate situations, feel the need to go to these places of greed and loan shark mentality to help them stay out of lifelong debt to such entities. There are people behind these entities, some of whom would probably call themselves Christian. But there are many Christian churches who are standing up and saying, “No more injustice and greed at the expense of our needy and poor–our most vulnerable community members.” There are many verses in both the Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible on usury, and we seem to have lost our way as a society on these issues. Repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation seem to be in order in our current economies.
I am my Father’s daughter (both my earthly Father and my heavenly Father). My earthly Father taught me about justice and love. He was a lawyer and loving Dad, who helped people who were often times being taken advantage of by the more powerful. Justice is about fairness, love of neighbor, respect of those different from us. In best case scenario’s, lawyers help the oppressed, and do not just help the rich and powerful lord it over the rest of us. Dad was respectful of all people, of all walks of life, of all cultures. I learned by his example. My heavenly Father so kindly and lovingly gave me my earthly Father. I am grateful for 88 years with Dad.
Easter weekend will never be quite the same without my earthly Father. But, I am working through the stages of grief. God only knows where I will be from a year from now? It’s a comfort knowing that love exists and it comes from God. I am grieving, yet I am grateful. Easter seems to have had a different meaning this year. I accept that.