Grief never dies.

Daddy died May 14, 1960. He was 46; I was 16. He had been scheduled for open heart surgery the following week, to replace a heart valve damaged by the rheumatic fever that daddy contracted during WWII. He’d had several heart attacks and was looking forward to regaining his health. But he had another heart attack in the middle of the night and this time, he died.

It was the night of my 11th grade Junior Prom, which I had reluctantly attended with some boy I didn’t really know, and whose name I can’t recall to this day. I had spent that evening sad, not knowing why, just sad. I’m sure my date had a miserable time.

I never recovered. I began dating guys mother didn’t approve of, marrying Paul when I was 18, basically to get away from my unhappy mother. He was loving, he was kind, he would give anyone a helping hand or give them the shirt off his back – when he was sober. Unfortunately he was an alcoholic.

Mother died June 22, 1970. She had never recovered from Daddy’s death. She had become a full-fledged alcoholic, in and out of rehab, wrecking her car, hurting herself, attempting suicide several times over the next nine years. She shot herself in the head on June 28, 1969. It was my daughter’s 4th birthday. Her concerned pastor and other church friends sat in her living room, unaware of her plans as she walked out into the back yard and fired the shot.

She lived in a nursing home for nearly a year, eventually dying of pneumonia. Her beautiful hazel eyes were open but she was non-responsive, non-moving, although a friend told me years later that she went often to visit and was sure mother heard her as she read the Bible to her and prayed. She was sure mother responded to her questions with eye blinks. I seldom went to see her, never talked to her, thinking that she herself simply wasn’t there, lying so still on that hospital bed.

For many years after mother’s death, I had nightmares every few months. Really it was the same nightmare: Mother was missing. In the dreams I was looking for her everywhere, going from house to house, friend to friend, relative to relative, business to business. Mother’s car was still in her front yard, her purse was still there in the house, but she wasn’t there. Sometimes other people were helping me look for her, sometimes she had just vanished that day; other times I was the only one still looking, she had been gone for a long time. The content was always the same: Mother was missing.

(It wasn’t until shortly after Tim died that those nightmares stopped happening. One night Father God graciously gave me a vision of heaven where I saw Tim, Mother, and Daddy living and working, full of joy and eternal life. I never had another of those nightmares after that.)

I never recovered. My marriage fell apart when my husband and I couldn’t just make things work. Several years later I met and married Tim, a wonderful man. With the Lord’s help we faced many challenges, especially Tim’s health problems.

Tim died December 15, 2006. He fell at home, broke his leg near the hip, had surgery to repair it, had a heart attack in the recovery room and lived one day. No-one had thought Tim wouldn’t recover; he always recovered! He’d had so many health problems in his life, but he always recovered! Until that day.

I never recovered. For days, even weeks, I couldn’t sleep in a dark house. I turned on every overhead light, every lamp throughout the house and slept – although I didn’t sleep much – with the lights on. I couldn’t drive down certain streets in town, I would take various detours to avoid familiar streets. I couldn’t shop on certain aisles in the grocery store; that’s where I used to buy Tim’s favorite foods.

I couldn’t do medical transcription for a certain doctor’s practice any more. He had been Tim’s doctor; that was the waiting room where Tim would wait, listen to a little pocket radio, sometimes chat with other patients. I tried to continue but didn’t last more than a few days. I just couldn’t go into that waiting room, not even into that building. They said they understood.

Gradually I could turn off the lights at night, drive down those streets again, shop in those grocery aisles again. But there are still some things I don’t do. While a year later I donated most of Tim’s clothes to shelters, I have never thrown away some of Tim’s belongings. I kept a collection of his favorite neckties, ties I had bought for him. I kept his South Carolina ID card, his wallet, his cologne, his watch. I sleep in one of his undershirts.

People die. But grief? Grief never dies.

Some people will get this. Some won’t, the ones who think you’ll just “get over it.” Who say “Time heals all wounds.” No it doesn’t. Time may make the pain less, like a fading bruise. But underneath the invisible damage is still there, not throbbing as much but still there. Until…

          I never recovered – but I did heal.

There is a solution to grief. Even if grief doesn’t die, God can heal all wounds. Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit know exactly how grief feels. Accepting their understanding, comfort and healing is how I have survived intact, one more day, one more week, one more year.

I began writing a blog about heaven some months after Tim died. Maybe reading through those posts will help somebody else. Here’s my favorite one:  https://speakingofheaven.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/touching-base/

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Under cover of darkness

FireworksIowaJimaMonumentIn recent weeks I have experienced a peculiar sadness, an unexplained grief in my spirit off and on.

No matter what else I was doing – housework, grocery shopping, reading – I would begin to feel grief-stricken, as though something really bad had happened somewhere, or was getting ready to.

I was 14 the first time this happened, June 16, 1957 when my great grandmother Mary Emily Dunnahoe Springs died. I didn’t know her really, had only visited her once or twice with my grandmother. I knew she’d been bedridden because of a broken hip for years, but had no idea she was sick otherwise.

Spending the summer at my grandparents’ farm in Effingham, I had just gone to bed when suddenly a horrible sadness come over me for no reason. I was wondering what on earth was wrong with me when the phone rang and my grandmother Mimi went to answer it. Mimi was upset and tearful when she came to tell me that her mother had just died. All I knew to do was pray.

Over the years that negative sensation has occasionally washed over me without any known cause. I’ve learned to pray whenever it comes, pray until the feeling subsides. Soon afterwards I usually learn that something bad or sad has happened, sometimes to a person I’m close to, sometimes not. Sometimes I never hear of anything bad happening, nothing I can point to, anyway.

This time, July the 4th kept popping up in my thoughts. The closer it got to that day, the stronger the sad feelings got. Each time I asked the Lord to show me who and what to pray for, and as they came to mind I’d intercede for those people, places and things.

The morning of the 4th the grief was still there. It was like waiting for another shoe to fall. The news on television and online wasn’t much different than in recent days. Middle East turmoil. Protests about illegal immigrants in California. Bad weather, like  Hurricane Arthur that was traveling up the eastern seaboard.

As the unsettled, grief-struck emotions rose and fell during the morning, I considered it a call to intercession. I prayed for every person, every situation that came to mind, from the President to the Israeli government to my own family. I included the hurricane.

Then — just after 2:30 PM eastern time, the grief instantly vanished, as if it had never been there. It didn’t just die down, diminish and eventually disappear. It was just gone.

What’s going on, Lord, I asked. Has something dreadful happened? In my family or among my friends? Something else, somewhere in the United States? In the Middle East? Or — perhaps was something dreadful prevented from happening, by the prayers of your people?

Doing an online search of national and international media this morning (both secular and Christian), I found no mention of a disaster or tragedy that was particularly unusual.

Wondering if anyone else (or how many others) had perceived the same sort of sadness in the spirit, I did an online search for “prophetic warnings.”

It didn’t take long to discover a wide variety of websites and blog posts. Some Christians are feeling quite positive and upbeat, despite the usual “bad news” in the nation and the world. They believe a revival is just ahead for the United States, and that everything is soon going to be okay, politically, economically, and spiritually.

Some are confident that their personal prayers are about to be answered for themselves and their family, about their health, financial situations, marital problems, you name it.

I also found some who like me have felt a sense of grief. They agree that a worldwide revival has already begun (and it has), that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is imminent for America, but that a tragedy is also very likely ahead for the United States. They are calling for continued intercession, that the Lord will intervene and show mercy to America.

Okay Lord, I asked, who is right? Here’s what he showed me.

Under cover of celebration last night, while spectacular fireworks were being admired from coast to coast, explosions of a spiritual sort were taking place in cities from Washington to L.A., Chicago to Houston, Seattle to Miami.

A nationwide spiritual battle has been joined. Under cover of apathy, complacency, distraction and spiritual ignorance, the enemy of Christ is flooding in. They are arriving in greater numbers than ever before, spreading to infiltrate every corner of American society.

They are not invisible to the Lord. “We are not ignorant of his devices,” the apostle Paul said. The Holy Spirit sees what he is up to. He will inform God’s warriors that their fervent prayers are needed.

Sometimes that call to intercession is perceived like grief, he said, sometimes like desperation, sometimes like rage. It won’t feel pleasant when it comes, but intercession will be needed more and more in the days ahead, if America is to be rescued. God’s desire is to rescue our nation.

One more warning:  It’s going to take American churches filled with prayer warriors equipping themselves with God’s armor, instead of spiritual toddlers taking naps – spiritual boot camps, not kindergartens.