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Posts Tagged ‘Death’

There are so many things swirling around my mind right now.  I am thinking about a married couple that found out they may finally be parents via adoption, a married woman concerned about her grandmother’s health, a friend who doesn’t know where his life is going and may leave his home state for another, a married couple preparing their hearts and supporting friends and family for the impending loss of a brother, a friend who strives to maintain purity of mind and spirit, and me, a girl who is just trying to figure out how to love well.

I’m mainly thinking about the pain of loss and how one can maintain a loving and healthy relationship with someone who is experiencing a loss, but also how to lovingly respond to someone trying to love YOU through a loss.

One of the main reasons I started my blog in the first place was to have a sounding board after the death of a very good friend, Lisa Radtke.  Stories can be found in earlier posts dating back to 2007 or 2008, however, it still remains as the most difficult part of my life to walk through.  Current circumstances of life are really difficult for me, however, the death of a friend is permanent, and I will never see her again.  As I have often shared with friends, she displayed the very presence of Christ to me.  She loved like the Lord wants us to love.  She saw the strengths in me that were from the Lord and she encouraged me to use them for His glory, but also called me out when I wasn’t doing things in line with the Lord’s will for me.  She was a great lover of the Savior and His word.  She was incredibly funny, full of life, and I miss her….I miss her so much.

When I got the call about Lisa, I was getting ready to go out to run errands.  I heard a frantic and hysterical voice of a friend on the other end.  At first, I thought she was laughing, but instead was screaming and crying about a woman who called from Lisa’s phone to say Lisa had been killed.  I couldn’t believe it.  I mentioned to the friend to stay where she was and that I would be coming over.  When I hung up, I almost immediately got a phone call from Lisa’s cell phone.  A concerned voice began talking, but it was one that I didn’t recognize.  It was a cousin of Lisa’s, who had her phone and was calling the contacts to let them know.  I asked her for more information and then instructed her to stop calling everyone in Lisa’s phone as it was very distressing to the people she had already contacted.  We hung up and I then began going through the details.  I don’t remember the trip to the friend’s house who was frantically telling me these things about Lisa, however, I remember feeling that this was going to be a lot to go through, a lot to process, and a lot of crying was about to take place…A LOT.

What I will ALWAYS remember about that week that we lost Lisa was THE LORD.  The Lord, Him alone, gave me an incredible peace that I cannot describe.  An immediate forgiveness for the person that took Lisa away from us, the ability to think clearly and communicate to those about her death, and the ability to help with the funeral and memorial preparations as a family friend who took part in family communications.  I don’t remember every single moment, but I do recall a lot of sitting in dark bedrooms with crying friends, offering up prayers as they laid in my lap and wept and were sometimes inconsolable, and lots of hugs and comforting words.  For those that were too overcome, we would sit for hours. Just silent.  Sometimes no words will do for something like that…you just need the peace of  hearing weeping or hearing nothing.  That was my existence for almost five days.

At night when I went home, I would lock my bedroom door, and pray to the Lord that I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night because I would be reminded of her death.  I knew that I would not be able to go back to sleep after that point.  I locked my door because I was afraid of the night and what could happen.  One night, I did wake in the middle of the night, terrified to move, and overcome with sorrow.  I had comforted, I had prayed, I had sat with many, but I hadn’t cried yet; I wasn’t ready.

The morning of Lisa’s funeral was the worst morning of my existence.  I had almost no interest in getting up out of bed.  I just kept thinking “today is the day that we bury her” and I couldn’t face it.  An hour after waking, I got up out of bed and prepared to go to the funeral.  I wasn’t prepared for so many people.  The funeral home wasn’t even prepared for so many people; the overflow rooms….overflowed.  So many people, so many people that she loved and loved her.  She loved very well.

I had made it through the funeral and we were all getting ready to head to the cemetery.  I don’t remember too many other details from later that day, however, I remember getting ready to leave for the cemetery.  During those times, I had two pretty sweet friends, Janni and Burrill; we were thick as thieves (still are) and they LOVED and SUPPORTED me that day because they knew what I had been going through during that week of preparing. They just stood with me in the funeral home parking lot.  Very few words were spoken, but they knew I hadn’t truly begun to mourn my Lisa.  They knew I wouldn’t cry in front of them, but they wanted me to know they knew.  I wanted so much to acknowledge their support, but all I could manage was a ‘Thank You’, but that, as I found, was all they needed.  They just needed to know I was on the right path and their support was acknowledged; I was so grateful for them.  As we gathered to bury her, I knew the Lord had prepared a time for me to speak with Him and cry and plead and shout at Him.  That time came two weeks later, and He still had such compassion and love and patience with me.  God knew exactly what moment that I needed and he met and loved me perfectly.

The Lord’s way is perfect.  Deuteronomy 32:4 says- “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”  Psalm 18:30 says – “As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.”

I gotta take my hints from the Lord on this one.  There is no way we can truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ when they experience a loss without the divine intervention of the Father so that He can put His hand on us and steady us as we enter into mourning, into the darkness, into the sadness of losing someone close to us.  We cannot do it without Him; I don’t care what grief book you read, I don’t care what counseling you took…ok, I might care, BUT, you cannot do it, you cannot even think of going through the process without His presence.  He is the Center and Safe place in this process. Loving during loss and accepting love during loss requires Jesus.  You need Jesus.

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(A few of Lisa’s belongings)

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Over the past decade, I have sometimes forgotten who I am.  I really don’t know if I am at home with the person that I did become.  Did I become someone that I really wanted to be, or did I compare myself with someone else in order to become like another person?  Who is the real me, anyways?

Over the past few months, I have definitely had some ups and downs; I have been able to easily see who I am in a sense, and, in a sense, of who I am not.  I have been able to say ‘no’ to some things that I know will not benefit me in the long run, and closeout the relationships that hurt me.  I guess in essence, this blog would have to be the example of how to love oneself.  I really don’t have any solid advice about how to go about getting there 100%, however, I have some thoughts….of course:

FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO AND BE…AND THEN DO IT. BE IT.

If you have figured out what you like to do (that is something you can make a living off of), I think that you should start to pursue that as a goal.  It has taken me most of my adult life to become cognizant of the things that I enjoy doing and would like to continue to do, but it has caused me to start in a direction toward a goal.  In that, I feel like I am able to have a face, to have a reason for existence (for lack of a better description).  In that, in a sense, I can face my next task, my next hurdle, knowing that I am heading down a track/road that isn’t necessarily easy, but I am content in, knowing that’s for a certain purpose.  All of that, leads to a sense of having a little bit of a “chin-up” moment; a moment when you realize that you like what you are doing, and therefore can push yourself knowing you can love who you are while working towards that goal.

There are a lot of bad voices out there; too many to really name specifically, however, they say sometimes that you aren’t good enough to do what you want, or be who you want to be.  Sometimes, the voices say that the world is better off without you in it.  I can tell you that these things are not true, that your life most definitely has value; the people around you really don’t want to lose you, but, YOU have to make that decision of belief for yourself.  These voices can stay with you hours, days, weeks, months, years after you have originally heard them.  I think sometimes I have stayed so busy in an attempt to block them out.  That could be true, however, the people that have stayed around me, have had to constantly tell me that they enjoy spending that time with me; that I’m loved.  I’m still here, haven’t left town or the people that I love, so I guess it’s me deciding that I do indeed trust and believe what my loved ones are saying.  It’s up to each person to decide if they desire to trust.  For the parties getting the negative vibes, etc.:  do you really trust your friends and family when they say that they love you?  Sometimes that is the key to being able to stay in a town, stay in a lifestyle, or staying alive.

To come to a conclusion of sorts, friends, what you say to others and how they respond to you is very important.  You are helping each of your friends and family members determine how they feel about themselves; you’re letting them know they are worth the time and effort to know; that they can be loved.  As much as I’ve absorbed over these last 33 years, the one thing I’ve taken closest to heart is the people in my life that haven’t changed how they feel about me and the life path that the Lord has chosen for me.  Those people are sometimes are the reason why I love myself and what I do.

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My work week started out like any other, I mistakenly thought that someone was upset with me and I avoided them, and I had way too much work to do at the office.  Because I thought my friend was upset with me, I decided not to darken his door with my presence, and spent my evening at home.  I ate dinner with my parents, washed clothes, watched a British TV show on my computer, and even wrote a new song.  It was lovely to be home in my room, in the quiet.  Tuesday was a little bit better, kickboxing and then cancelling worship practice due to weather.  Wednesday, I didn’t see coming.

On Wednesday morning, I checked my facebook account to see that a message was sent letting me know that a friend had committed suicide.  I guess my reaction was not my normal reaction.  I was in shock, I was not hysterical, though.  Normally when someone tells me someone close to me has passed on, I laugh uncontrollably because I am hysterical.  I sat at my desk and I thought very deeply about what had happened.  I guess I was confused of the reason why he took his own life. 

When I first met Blake, I was on facebook.  He had randomly friended me because I was friends with one of his close friends.  After that, he would send me notes and little gifts and ask me how my weekend was going, however, he never really opened up about himself.  I guess I never noticed that.  Every once in a while, I felt like something wasn’t right, but then he would show up again and ask me how I was and what was up.  Blake ended up having to move out of town for work and things seemed to begin to fall apart for him.  He was on prescription drugs and things weren’t quite clicking for him.  He began to treat certain people as if they weren’t trying hard enough to support and love him.  All the while, I thought things were fine, and I was wondering how he was doing and why I hadn’t heard from him.

On Valentine’s Day, I sent him a gift and thanked him for all his kind words.  The next time I checked his facebook account, he had closed everything off.  I couldn’t see much and I figured it was something that I had done wrong, so I removed him from my friends. 😦  I seriously try not to blame myself, however, he was already in a vulnerable state and I feel as if I helped to push him over.

With every hour since I have heard of Blake’s death, I keep thinking about what we were.  We were friends, and yet I keep hearing things like “he really liked you…”, a friend told me that on Wednesday.  What does that mean?  I wanted to know him more.  What does that mean?  I keep beating myself up like…if he really liked me, why didn’t he tell me, or wasn’t I enough?!  I know these things of which I speak are so not what I should be thinking of, but they keep repeating for me in my mind.

What I do know, is ultimately, it was his decision to do what he did.  As much as I am in pain about losing him, I cannot blame myself.  I get this feeling as if I have been left on a cliffhanger.  What would we have become if he had just opened up to me?  What would happen, if I could just have truly been his close friend?  Why didn’t I feel something when it happened that night?  Why couldn’t I have called him or something?? I really don’t know.

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As I prepare for this journey on Wednesday, I find myself thinking about a friend that I lost.  For those of you that know me, understand that I think about her constantly and she had an impact on my life as well as my friends that knew her.  For those that just happen to glance at this blog, her name was Lisa.  Lisa was killed in 2006 at the hands of her mother, Sharon.  Sharon is in prison in Ypsilanti.  I know this, because I have been writing her for over a year now.

For some reason, about four months after Lisa’s death, she sent me a letter from jail.  She wanted to make amends, she wanted to send her apologies to all of Lisa’s close friends.   At first, I felt that I should try and do something with the letter, that I should give it to the friends that she mentioned…but then I felt like that would be a tremendous burden to have to give these people her letter and not know what to say…

I decided the best course of action would be to meet with people that would know what do to with the letter and how to distribute it.  Her first letter was one of desperation, she didn’t want to live, she only wanted to die to be able to see her daughter again.  There was no hope in this first letter, only the wish that she could find a way to end her life.  Sharon troubled me so, that I contacted her case worker, I contacted her mother to make sure she was alright and I wrote her a letter.  Ever since, Sharon and I have been writing.  At times, the whole process can be absolutely overwhelming.  Yes, she took one of my closest friends away from me, she stole the life of someone very important to me and very close to many, but then…..

Sharon changed.

I got a letter from Sharon this past week.  I was nervous to open this one as truthfully, my last letter to her was letting her know that she needs to change, she needs to move on with the rest of the path the Lord has for her.  In this new letter, she spoke about her grief, her sadness, her endless misery.  Then she spoke about this hope that I honestly found so refreshing, I smiled at her letter.  She spoke about her new roommate, a believer who had lost her way, that was bible trained, was a missionary in two foreign countries, and somehow was brought to Sharon in her very prison cell.  Now while I continue to wonder how this particular bible school trained woman ended up in a correctional facility, I was very moved by her recent letter.  Sharon is making an effort to understand God’s word and is now beginning the steps to forgive herself for taking the life of her daughter.

For those of you that did know Lisa, I understand that this may be difficult to read and even more difficult to understand…however, I believe (as does Sharon) that the Lord has forgiven her of her sins, however, Sharon needs to learn to forgive herself so that she can move on with what the Lord has for her now.  It has been really hard for me swallow, but I am learning about how wise the Lord is, how great and perfect He is, and how much He loves people; even when they seem unlovable.

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