The year was 1990. It was the 12th of June and our 27
year old son, Brian, had just passed away. For 2 years he had fought,
and finally lost, a courageous battle against brain cancer. Up until
the moment he died I had prayed and believed he would be healed. I wouldn't
let myself think otherwise. And now he was gone. It was like a nightmare.
But one from which I knew I would never wake up.
We had been at the hospital all night. By the time we got home we were
emotionally and physically exhausted. I tried to rest, but sleep wouldn't
come. All I could do was lie there and think. All the events of the
last few hours kept invading my mind. From the moment I realized something
was wrong, and Brian might really die. To the last moment when his breathing
began to slow to "normal". And with that came hope that he was going
to live after all. But instead, his breathing gradually slowed until
it ceased altogether and he was gone.
Memories of the last few hours flooded my mind. Images of those who
came to visit. The looks of sorrow and disbelief that covered their
faces. "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...," the faint words of a
hymn we sang to Brian rang inside my head. "I'll not be defeated..."
another hymn, Brian's favorite, trailed in my mind. The way he looked,
his body lifeless as if in a coma. Except for his breathing which was
deep and labored. I wanted to stop the memories but couldn't. I wanted
to scream, but wouldn't. And yet I felt the peace of God wrap around
me like a baby being wrapped in a soft, warm blanket.
In the days that followed, I would often seek the comfort I needed by
reading the Bible. Especially the Psalms. "They that sow in tears shall
reap in joy" Ps.126:5. And my favorite: "Precious in the sight of the
Lord is the death of his saints" Ps. 116:15 would comfort me. With the
overwhelming peace of God, surrounding me. I felt the arms of God upholding
me. I felt comforted and I wanted to share that comfort with others.
Yes I grieved but I didn't allow my grief to go too deep. I began to
feel strong and proud of the fact that I was doing so well. I realized
later that I wasn't allowing myself to grieve. If I had, it would have
hurt too much. I wouldn't have been able to keep up the facade of being
the strong one of the family.
One day as I was reading scripture. I opened the Bible to 2 Corinthians
1:4, and the words "Comfort others with the same comfort you have been
given" jumped out at me. I felt the overwhelming presence of God. It
was as though He was speaking that scripture right to me. It was so
awesome that I started crying. I felt it was confirmation from God that
He wanted me to minister to others who were grieving. The desire to
minister became so strong I was certain I
could start ministering to others immediately. I was sure God would
fill my mouth with just the right words to say to those who were needing
comfort. But in my zeal to minister, I would try to do it in under my
own power and wouldn't know what to say. I began to doubt God wanted
me to minister at all.
After several months of praying and crying out to God "please give me
guidance and direction and show me how you want me to minister", I found
God had other plans for me. He wanted to teach me a few things before
trusting me with His ministry.
I discovered He knew me better than I knew myself. I started grieving,
gut wrenching, agonizing, deep grieving. For a year and a half, a day
wouldn't go by without tears flowing almost every time I thought about
Brian. I couldn't understand why I was grieving so hard and no longer
felt Gods comforting arms around me. I cried out to God, "Where are
you?", "Why am I grieving so much?", and, "How can I testify and minister
to others when I am grieving like this?" I began sharing with various
friends & family members but never seemed to get the answers I so
desperately needed. I thought a grief recovery support group might be
what I needed but I was afraid to go alone. "Besides", I told myself,
"I don't want to attend one where I'm not sure that God is included
in the therapy". So I didn't go at all.
I also felt deep pain for my daughter-in-law and four young grandsons
who were having a worse time than I was, coping with the loss of their
husband & father. She and Brian had given their hearts to the Lord
during his illness but after his death she had walked away from God
and church. I wondered if she would have "fallen through the cracks"
if there had been a ministry in our church which would reach out to
the widowed. I had so many questions and no answers, just more pain
Then one day as I was waiting on God and crying out to him again, He
answered me. It was a very humbling and uncomfortable answer. He told
me He had lifted His comfort from me because I was taking the credit
for being strong, and that my strength was and always had been in Him.
Without Him I was weak. Then He showed me that, in order to minister
to others who were grieving I must experience the same pain and grief
they were going through. And, everyone has to go through the process
of grieving before they can begin to heal. I was no exception.
From that point on, I began the healing process. I read all I could
about grieving and I sought the fellowship of others who had been through
similar experiences. I no longer tried to do it all on my own. God used
others to minister to me before He used me to minister to others.
I was ready to listen, and God showed me what He wanted me to do and
how He wanted me to minister to others. I learned one of the best ways
to begin the healing process in my own life was to minister to others
who were hurting. Out of that experience was birthed a grief recovery
support group in our church, and involvement in furthering the existing
ministry for the widows. It hasn't always been easy to minister, but
I have learned when God is in control "I can do all things through Christ
which strengthens me".