Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saying Goodbyes, Again

“…do not grieve as do the rest who have no hope” -1Th. 4:13 Jeanie just dropped me off at the Branson airport to make the trip to Colorado. My brothers, nephews and I will be climbing Mt. Massive and fulfilling my oldest brother’s wish for his ashes to be thrown off a 14er. I wrote about it a few weeks ago. It’s been an emotional couple of hours- a lot more than I anticipated. Grief is so unpredictable. We try to fast forward through it all, only to be rudely interrupted when it shows up again. But when it comes walking through the door, it’s best to politely pay heed and to honor the guest. Earlier this morning, we made a trip to our local veterinarian. Our cat, Tigger, had been in our family for 18 years. He had outlasted three of our labs and his health never wavered. But this past year, he began losing weight and losing mobility. His quality of life was deteriorating, so we made the tough decision to have him “put to sleep.” Though Tigger was never really a ”cozy” cat, he still was a part of the family that will be missed. A loss is a loss, whether big or small. But now I’m on the plane going to say bye to my big brother again. I’ve found myself revisiting his loss and realized that I too easily shift into compartmentalization mode when I face pain. It’s simply easier to keep it tucked away than to face the reality and deal with it in a healthy way. I do realize that God has gifted us with the unique ability to handle loss. Our fantastic God-given brain has the ability to store away emotions when necessary so that we can cope and survive through tough situations. But the coping system becomes destructive when I keep emotions tucked away indefinitely without letting God touch them with His healing power. Can our awesome God heal with an instant touch? Of course. But He usually chooses to use the healing touch of a brother or sister who walks with us through the pain and loss. That’s what I anticipate in Colorado. As Pel’s three sons and three brothers gather together for the weekend and honor him on the mountain, we’ll be validating each other’s love for our brother and dad. We’ll be saying to one another, “It’s OK to say goodbye. It’s OK to move on.” The common denominator is people. When we choose to grieve alone, we’re locked into our own empty, dark closet of pain. I am so thankful to have brothers and nephews that are willing to take the time and go to the expense to honor Pel. I realize not everyone can make a trip to the mountains in Colorado. But everyone can reach out to people. Everyone can lean on a trusted friend. Everyone can reach out to our loving and compassionate God who knows what it means to hurt. The point is: reach out. Because reaching in just compounds the pain. I’m praying we have a safe and awesome time this weekend. I’m a little nervous but excited for what lies in store. Mostly, I look forward to being with Pel. His sprit will never leave us. Yes, I’ll miss Tigger too, but Pel’s spirit lives on forever. Both in Heaven and in our hearts. By Eric Joseph Staples © www,

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