Many times death leaves behind a void that can not be filled by anyone or anything, no matter how hard one tries. I recently lost a very close family member, HM, – someone that knew me inside and out. He had cancer, an illness he fought with all his might but it had already been too late when it was diagnosed. He only had chemo twice and stopped since it would not have helped. HM was very strong in facing the illness and he accepted the fact that this was the end for him. He did not complain, but took time to be with family and cleared up all loose ends e.g. giving a sibling power of attorney rights in case he got too ill to do anything for himself.
I managed to be with HM for several weeks before he became too ill and spent as normal a time as one can with a terminally ill loved one. I returned for another visit and was at his bedside with another family when he passed. HM’s death really stung, but I was grateful that I had spent a lot of time with him and we had talked a lot and helping him do what was needed. It has not been easy living without HM since we were always in touch, but the family has been helping each other.
One way I have personally been dealing with this loss is thinking of the happy, happy times we had. I do think of the disagreements we had, but I am comforted by the fact that we ironed out our differences and moved on. Many families do not get over their issues and end up not talking. I am also grateful that HM had a great relationship with his family and they loved him until the end. I think it must have made facing death a little easier.
It has not been easy not having HM to call and just talk about everything and nothing in particular, but I (and other family members) are doing much better. The family talks regularly about HM, but also the need for us to continue ‘living life’. I know how easy it can be for one to be bitter against God, life and everything else at the loss of HM but we have decided to continue ‘living’ because that is what HM would have also wanted.
The sting of death is one that one never gets used to, no matter how many times one experiences it. The sting of death is something that a bereaved person has to fight everyday. The sting of death is one that someone has to deliberately decide not to make you despair and want to give up on life. We will continue feeling the sting of death while we are on earth, but we need people around us and activities and hobbies to help us deal with it. For Christians, we also need to rely on God for strength to go on. I believe other religions have ways on dealing with the sting of death.
I know that as Christians, we believe that we will one day overcome the sting of death, but I want to be able to overcome that sting in the here and now because it is so painful. Tomorrow (ie. in heaven) will take care of itself.
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Cor. 15: 55