Girl School for Grownups

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Thoughts about death

on November 29, 2014

In January 2013, Tim’s dad died. In August my mom died. And in January 2014 my dad died. In the last week, two of my much loved friends have lost parents. In honor of my friends, and for anyone who has lost someone they love, here’s something I wrote shortly after Troy died.

For most of my life I’ve known virtually nothing about death. I took a course in college titled “Death and Dying” and I learned about the five stages of grief. I knew what I learned in Sunday School and what the Bible taught about death and heaven and hell. But I’ve rarely experienced death in a way that touched my everyday life.

My father-in-law died 3 weeks ago.

Troy was a vital part of our lives. He and Margaret lived 10 minutes away from us.  He worked until a month before his death. He celebrated his 60th anniversary last June. He loved his family and friends and wanted to live. He was one of my favorite people ever and I know he loved me. I miss him like crazy. And I hate that he’s dead and that awful people are still alive.

I don’t know much about death and grief, but here are the things I’ve learned so far:

  • Every time someone says “I’m so sorry about Troy” it eases a teeny tiny bit of the pain. So I will always acknowledge, in person or by sending a card, the loss of a loved one. 
  • Sending food is one of the best ways to help people who are grieving. The people who are alive still need to eat. I will always bring food when I can. It’s a tangible way to express love.
  • Talking about the person who died is good. One day shortly after he died, I had a wave of sadness that came out of nowhere. I was driving home from Trader Joe’s and crying, and I thought “I’m going to call Margaret.” Then I was scared because I didn’t want to make her sad. Decided to call anyway. She answered and asked me how I was doing. I said “I miss Troy so much.” She said, “Oh I miss him too” and we talked and it helped.
  • If you pay attention, you can find a way to help. In January we practically lived at Troy and Margaret’s house. And we used our house as a pit stop. One of my friends, unbeknownst to me, snuck into our house while we were helping Margaret and cleaned our kitchen. (I still get tears in my eyes when I think of this.)

As far as my beliefs about the afterlife, again I don’t know much. I used to think I knew some stuff. But in the last 4 years it’s like everything I thought I knew was stripped away (which is not a bad thing, but it’s a hard thing) and every belief has been challenged. Here’s a little list of what I think I know for sure:

  • There is a God.
  • I am not God (if I was, things would be a LOT different around here!).
  • God knows and cares beyond what I can possibly imagine.
  • Troy has a new body that works perfectly.
  • There is a balcony. I read a Joyce Meyers book years ago where she said that people who die can be in our balcony. And we can choose who’s in our balcony. I like to think of the upper deck seats at a Giants game, with people leaning forward and cheering, “You can do it!” I think Troy is in a lot of people’s balconies.

I loved Troy. You would have loved him too.

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3 responses to “Thoughts about death

  1. 1happygrrl says:

    Thank you for sharing your advice, Leslie. I am still sorry you’ve endured so much loss, and I’m impressed by your willingness to learn from all experiences, the good and the bad. This post will help many.

  2. Audrey says:

    Thank you for sharing those beautiful thoughts. I miss Papa so much.

  3. Amy says:

    I too am sorry for your loss. I know Troy was very loved.

    Here is something I read that helped me sum up the way I feel about death and grief:

    The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will never “get over” the loss of a loved one;
    you will learn to live with it.
    You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.
    You will be whole again.
    But, you will never be the same, nor would you want to be…

    And yes, meals helped tremendously! I cried everytime the doorbell rang! 🙂

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