I’m writing this post for my Aunt Joy, who is struggling with the grief of caring for my terminally ill Uncle Captain. Captain has been fighting cancer for quite some time now, and it is now becoming clear that, though thousands of prayers are bombarding heaven on his behalf, his time is drawing near. Our Father in heaven doesn’t always say yes to our prayers. The grief of living here on earth without him is heavy on us all, but for Joy, it is so much worse. She is feeling the loosening of a decades old bond between them, and it is easy to see, it is crushing her.
One of the things about my father’s side of the family that I find so incredibly different than my mother’s, is our strength in some harsh areas of life, like surviving un-survivable experiences, fighting with such veracity among ourselves, and going right hand in hand with that last one, our amazing ability to forgive each other unforgivable things. For better or for worse, we are tied by a bond that only fighters in this world would understand, and sometimes, we turn that necessary quality towards one another. It never stands though; we also know how to say we are sorry, and we each also know how to forgive. We are all coping with this in our own flawed ways; but know this. We are all here for you when you need us.
Uncle Captain’s impending departure from this life has worn on all of us, in varying degrees, but out of concern for Aunt Joy, I wanted to take a minute and try to help her cope with something she feels will be too much for her to survive. I love you, Joy, and I promise you, if one person has made the cut to get a mansion in the sky, it is Captain.
Here are some things I hope you will take to heart, that you might be comforted once this horrible experience finally happens. And please remember, despite what any of this rocky, sturdy, fighting family might say or do because of our inability to cope with these bad moments, we all love both of you, and none of us will enjoy seeing either of you hurt in any way.
Here are some things I hope you will take to heart:
- Be sure you tell Captain how much you appreciate every minute you spent with him on this earth. We all want to hope someone will miss us terribly.
- It is okay to be honest that you know the end is nearing; but fight the urge to distance yourself from him emotionally just to protect your heart. We humans do this naturally, but if Captain deserves this one thing, it is our vulnerability.
- Follow Captain’s lead. If he wants to talk about God, or heaven, or the past, let him do the talking. If he doesn’t, then don’t push it. This is a painful journey for all of us, but in the end, it is his journey.
- Truth is a powerful and wonderful thing; but don’t go confessing old misdeeds just to get them off your conscience and make yourself feel better. No one can look at the two of you together and not feel; the other-worldly love that you both feel towards each other. I doubt there were things along the way you wished you hadn’t done, but if there are, let them die unspoken. They never mattered anyways.
- Stay in the present. Don’t worry about what you’re going to do when the end happens. We don’t know the time or day of this grievous experience, nor do we ever really know just how it will all go down. Don’t borrow more stress. Take each minute one at a time.
- Sometimes, words are unnecessary. Hug him. Kiss his forehead. Make him his favorite meal. Buy him a present. Show him you love him as well as tell him.
My heart is really heavy for you and for Captain, but I urge you to grieve the way the Lord told us to; with the assurance that this good-bye is only temporary. We will see him again on the other side.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
I love you, Joy. With my whole heart. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you or for Captain.