January 4, 2014

Greiving The Christian Way

 "Cast all your cares upon Him,For He cares for you" 1 Peter 5:7

I woke up yesterday not my usual bubbly self. I felt burdened but I couldn't tell what made me feel that way. Somehow, I summoned the courage to get out of bed and exercise but even the workout didn't help my mood.

At about 10am in the morning, my dad called me and the first thing he said was 'I should hold my mind and be strong'. My adrenaline shot up and I began to panic. All kinds of things started going through my mind and then he repeated himself. This time, his voice was shaky and I could feel the tears, pain, sorrow in his voice. My dad was crying.

I immediately remembered the only time in my life I had seen my dad cry before was when my grandmother, his mother died. I knew instinctively this wasn't good. I braced myself. It took him another few seconds before he said my uncle was dead.

I had just brought my kids (the kids I nanny for) to a bookstore for story time and we were just about to alight from the car when my dad called. So I went still when he said that  and asked him which of my uncles. He replied me 'Pa Georgy' as we usually called him. My heart stopped.

He was my father's older brother. I sat there and I didn't know what to tell my dad. He was clearly distraught and I didn't know what to tell him. I asked if he was sick and dad said he wasn't. He said he actually spoke to him on new year's day and that his wife said,they found him unconscious and rushed him to the hospital only for him to be pronounced dead.

My dad said he would let me know the funeral details later. I went in to the bookstore for story time and met a bunch of nannies. Everybody was in a good mood and talking and the kids were playing. I found myself putting up a face. I didn't get a chance to sob even for a few minutes and I was on my feet all day.

But I did get a few minutes to myself here and there and I found that when I thought about my uncle, there were no tears. I felt sorry that he is dead. I felt bad about all the motions that my father must be going through because he was and is very close with all his siblings. I felt sorry for my cousins and his wife. I felt sorry for the whole family. I felt bad internally and really sad and sorrowful but I couldn't bring myself to cry.

I was wondering if that made me a bad person. I knew my uncle, he visited often as did I and my siblings to his family. We are close with our cousins, so I expected that hearing such news, I would breakdown and fall apart. But I didn't. I was confused with myself all of yesterday why that was. Per my culture, we grief very differently from others and our grief is very visible.

So I kind of felt disappointed that I tried to cry but I couldn't. I know I miss my uncle so much. I had not seen him in seven years but I remember him vividly. In my mind's eye, I could still see him cracking his very subtle jokes, making everyone laugh but himself and he had a walk that commanded respect and audience. I miss his laugh and his whole demeanor and I feel for my cousins who are now fatherless even though they are all adults.

I was still very confused as to why I didn't even shed a tear despite all of my efforts to mourn my uncle visibly and it dawned on me this morning. Every time I tried to cry, there was something that preceded that action. It was a silent prayer I made every single time. Sometimes I would whisper or say it in my heart that "God please let him rest in your bosom, or God knows best or God is in control or God please comfort my family".

I realize now that even though I was saying them very casually and not quite paying attention, God was actually listening and I know now that my uncle was indeed called by God. You see, my uncle was asthmatic and he suffered so many episodes which could have claimed his life at any one point but didn't. When he finally gave the ghost, it wasn't a struggle. He went to sleep and passed away. God didn't want him to suffer neither his family.

So I take comfort in the words of Paul to the 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 which says 'But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep,lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.' It was even more beautiful that it was my mother who brought me to this realization. For if we believe that Jesus rose again after death and that all who believed in Him before their death will rise again with him, then it is very comforting to know that my uncle is only asleep in Jesus.

Mathew 5: 4 says " Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". God will comfort my aunt and cousins as he has and is comforting me. For any one else grieving, know that God is comforting you. You might not feel it but if you pay attention , you just might. He tells us to be of good courage and not be dismayed, for all these things will come to pass away and there shall be no more sorrow, no more pain and God Himself will wipe away all our tears. So take refuge in Him.

These other passages should help Isaiah 41:10,43:2, 49:13b and 51:11.I prayed and know God will receive him and that his soul is resting in peace already.I also know now that the lack of tears or crying on my part,didn't mean I fell short of mourning my uncle. It means for me that I put God in control and let His words comfort me because even when I wasn't paying attention to the whispers, I was talking to God and He was listening.

Rest In Peace Uncle George, in the bosom of our Lord until we meet again.I love you and we will all miss you.