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Giving birth to grief

"Giving birth to grief" Continued...

Issue: "Four horsemen of the apocalypse," Oct. 4, 2008

Even today, 10 years later, the times our children talk about Jeff are few and far between. It's still so painful. We miss him so much. Our daughter told us, "I think about Jeff every day."

It took us five years to empty out Jeff's old bedroom closet in our home-the bedroom that was his for 19 of his 25 years. We couldn't do it. With all of his clothes and personal belongings still there, it was almost like a memorial shrine. But we knew we had to do it. It was part of letting go and letting God heal our broken hearts. That was one of the most painful experiences we've ever had-item by item until we got to the bottom of the closet where we had put "the bag" containing the T-shirt, shorts, socks, sneakers, underwear, and shaved hair given to us by the hospital.

Grief must be tempered with hope. If it is not, it will eat you alive. You will stop living. I recall a day when grief overtook me as I was alone in the family room thinking about Jeff. I couldn't stop crying-but right in the midst of it all I heard an indescribable gentle whisper say, "he's with Me." That whisper from that Voice-God Almighty-was just what I needed to remind me afresh that "he's with Me," and so shall we ever be with the Lord-1 Thessalonians 4:18-"comfort one another with these words."

The battle of grief is like the contractions a woman experiences during the birth process. The contractions start far apart and gradually come closer together until the baby is born. Grief pains or contractions start out close together, one after another, and gradually occur farther apart. But no matter how far apart they are, when one comes it is just as painful as the first one.

The 10th anniversary of Jeff's death is approaching. The contractions still come every now and then. Will they ever stop coming? I don't know. Very well-meaning people have said to us that time heals all wounds. I respectfully disagree. I do know, however, that the same One with Whom Jeff now enjoys eternal bliss is the same One Who comforts us with that blessed hope, "He's with Me."

-Jack Rehill is a pastor in Pennsylvania

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