Finding HOPE While Living with Loss
Loss has visited close to home recently. From a good friend who lost her mom to a dear friend who lost her battle with cancer. Loss is difficult for everyone.
How do we find hope in the midst of loss is a difficult question to struggle with? I have experienced hope during loss in a couple of different ways.
Sometimes there is hope even after loss when there is also new life.
The birth of my grandkids brought some hope even in the season of grieving the loss of my own children through miscarriage.
Their little lives brought joy and laughter even through the time of sadness. I have also had a new a new dog bring hope and comfort when I have lost my best dog friend.
Most often I have experienced hope after loss through encounters with my Loving Father. Some of the greatest losses in my life have been followed by hope filled experiences with God’s love.
When my mom passed away, though she had been sick for 12 years, it seemed like a shock. I was not ready to let her go.
She died on a Saturday evening and the next morning while worshiping and grieving during church service, God blessed me with the reminder that Mom was worshiping that morning too.
She had been nonverbal for at least the last 8 years of her life (due to Alzheimer’s disease) so the thought of her standing at the feet of Jesus singing praises to Him face to face brought amazing comfort and joy.
The grief was made more bearable with the reminder of where she was that morning and for eternity yet to come.
The second time I experienced God’s great comfort was just a couple of years ago, when I was still struggling with the grief of losing my only children by miscarriage.
It was a difficult struggle for years, there were so many unanswered questions. Why would the Lord let me get pregnant only to lose my children before they ever got to take their first breath and experience my love for them.
I had so many hopes and dreams. Being a mom had been the desire of my heart for as long as I could remember.
Again, the Lord graciously reminded me that their death was not the end of their life. They were safe with Him and my Mom in heaven. When that truth came to me the overwhelming peace that followed was beyond description.
I had struggled for so long with questions and confusion regarding this loss but all of that became unimportant. They were ok and I would meet them someday, peace & hope replaced all the anger and confusion that had just been there.
Today as I grieve the passing of my friend and grieve the disappearing of my dad, I find hope in the character of God. I know that God is Good.
I know that God loves me no matter what happens in this life, and that truth motivates me to hold on to HOPE today and the many days to come.
How do you find Hope, even in the midst of grief?
How does what you believe change your everyday life?
Do you believe in Santa Claus? Do you believe in happily ever after? Do you believe in God’s word?
How you answer each of these questions will change the way you live.
If you believe in Santa you will get better gifts, or so I hear. If you believe in happily ever after you might work harder to invest your marriage so it is happy. If you believe in God’s word you will know His character and how He feels about you and that will change everything.
Believe has two different definitions: one means to accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of something the second on is to hold (something) as an opinion; think or suppose. Even how you believe something will change your life.
Believing something is truth versus an opinion are worlds apart.
Sometimes experiencing hard times can mess with your believing. Things have been difficult with Dad lately.
He is experiencing some new physical issues that have left him very tired and often even more confused. Sadly, with those feelings he is very agitated and can be unkind. My dad has always been a gentleman, kind and respectful. It is very difficult to see him like this, not to mention being the person he is unkind to.
My heart has been saddened and heavy. As I spilled my heart out to God about how hard this season with Dad is, He asked me, “Rayna, do you still believe I am good?”
This was a question I struggled with years ago when my first marriage came to an end. It was so hard to understand how I could be experiencing this when it was the last thing I wanted.
How could God let this happen?
With this question came some exploring of God’s character. Was it about Him letting this happen or was it really, could God still be good if this is His will for my life?
Struggling with this core belief has changed how I live.
Being rooted in the truth that God is Good helps me to respond to hard times with hope and peace.
When our house burned down, God is Good.
When my dog dies, God is Good.
When I get an, “I love you, Graham.” from Owen, God is Good.
When the harvest is abundant, God is Good.
When the crops are destroyed by flood, God is Good.
When my Dad is struggling and not nice, God is still Good.
What are you believing about God that needs a closer look? How can you move your belief from opinion to truth?
If you are not sure where to start, I can help. Coaching might be just what you need to make that shift. Learn more about coaching here or contact me to talk about what coaching with me would look like for you!
“If you wish to know God, you must know his Word. If you wish to perceive His power, you must see how He works by his Word. If you wish to know His purpose before it comes to pass, you can only discover it by His Word.” (C.H. Spurgeon)
Aging parents are a part of life, after all we all get older. The difficult thing about getting older is that things seem to start wearing out. All of us will reach a point where we can’t do what we used to, even to the point where we cannot take care of ourselves as we need to.
Watching a parent age can be very difficult but nothing is more difficult than the time in which you have to make the transition of stepping in to help your parent as they age.
I am in the that phase of life right now. My dad is 83 and he has to have 24-hour care and companionship due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Even if we were not dealing with this divesting disease, he would be reaching a time in life where he would need more help taking care of this home or even his health.
Here are 3 ways to gracefully handle this new phase of life:
Realize you are not experiencing a role reversal.
Many people refer to this time in life as a role reversal, you become the parent and your parent becomes the child. That is not true. You parent is still your parent and always be. They are just aging and are not able to do all the things they used to do for themselves.
As I have watched my dad’s disease progress I have been sure to keep our roles in the forefront of my mind. He is my dad in need of my help not a child. This has helped me stay present in the moment. Instead of trying to reteach something or reacting to a mistake he makes over and over again in frustration. I try to just take a deep breath and remind myself he can’t help it.
It can be divesting to your parent to find themselves in a place where they can’t do all the things they used to do so easily.
How you treat them will make all the difference in the world. No adult wants to be treated like a child! Though you might be doing things for your parent that you do for your children please remember this is the person who changed your diaper, taught you to walk and loved you through the teenage years. They are still your parent!
Always show honor to your parent.
Exodus 20:12 tells us to “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
There is no expiration date on this command.
Though this time of transition is difficult always keep in mind you are to treat them with honor. There are so many changes happening in their life when you keep honor and respect as a part of your relationship it will make the changes easier to deal with.
As with all people, we need to treat our parents the same way we want to be treated.
As my family has faced the many changes brought about with age and disease I have always strived to keep the golden rule in mind. Someday I will be the one needing help. How would I want to be treated?
How would you feel if you were no longer allowed to drive and expected to give up your favorite activities? Look for other options. It might be time for your parent to stop driving but finding alternative transportation will be crucial to keeping them healthy.
My dad has always been very physically fit and he loves sports so when we reached the stage in his disease that the doctor said we needed to take away the keys I looked high and low to find someone to take over the part he could no longer do, drive.
He still loved participating in playing volleyball 3 times per week and work outing at the gym the other 3 days. He was able to continue playing volleyball for 3 more years and he still lifts weights at the gym 3 times per week. Needing more help in life meant he had to give up the keys but not the activities he loves so much.
Losing independence is difficult, treating your parent with honor will make it easier to accept.
Appreciate them for who they are right now as well as who they have been to you your whole life.
We hear it over and over again but there is a lot of truth in the statement, stay in the moment. Pooh has some wisdom to share in around this:
“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne
Staying in the moment with your parent can really help you emotionally deal with how much life has changed for you and your parent. Make each day together a favorite day.
We all love to have fun. No matter our age laughter is good medicine for the soul. Challenge yourself to find ways to have fun together.
As Dad became more limited in the things he could do we searched for other things he had enjoyed in the past. I remembered playing ping pong with him when I was little so we gave it a try. He loved it and was still really good. Soon we replace the formal living room with a ping pong table. It has been the source of tons of fun for us, as well as for the others caring for him.
All of us enjoy things we are good at much more than something that is a struggle. Keep searching to find the things that still bring joy to your parent, it will create the opportunity for new good memories.
Appreciating them in the moment will help you cherish the time you spend with them now as you know they will not always be here. Your time and support will mean more to your parent than you can imagine.
Watching our parents age is not easy no matter how you look at it. I hope you have found my 3 tips to gracefully help your parents as they age helpful.
If you are facing challenges with this transition in your life, coaching might be just what you need to handle it better. I would love to help. Please contact me and we can set up a time to visit and see if coaching is a good fit for you.
If you have additional tips or ideas to deal with aging parents I would love to have you share them below.