hands, love, grief

The other side of grief

{ the other side }

nine months ago
i had a sequence of events
that led to a death
these events were
mutually experienced
by my family

yet for me –
i was on the other side
of the government restrictions
i was on the other side
of a closed border
i was on the other side
of assistance and answers
i felt like i had nothing
i could do or say
n o t h i n g

i received phone calls
with unexpected news
i received phone calls
of sorrow and miracle
i received phone calls
hearing things improve
i received phone calls
that sent me to my knees
c r y i n g
in the middle of the street
i received phone calls
with cracked voices
and sobs
i received phone calls
with lowered tones
and exhaustion
i received phone calls
b e c a u s e
i was on the other side

i still remember the moment
i still remember the hope
i still remember when the tables turned
and things went from better to worse
i still remember having to prepare my heart
every time my family called
i still remember having to empty to mind
so i could sleep at night
b e c a u s e
i was on the other side

when things went from better to worse
i wrote some words
on the third stage of grief
but they were never seen:

puppy, grief, sad

{ the wrong side }

the third stage of grief & covid-19

i am angry, but, i’m not sure who i’m angry at
the virus? the government? the police? God?

my grandfather, after three weeks in hospital,
an emergency surgery and miracle recovery,
was put an induced coma, because he had fluid
in the lungs and heart complications. then.
after a promised recovery, and return home,
he suffered a severe stroke. the stroke came as
a shock to me, unexpected in its severity and timing.

i had not been told that when he had come home
there was talk of the risk of stroke
i was on the other side
i had not been able to see him in person
during the deterioration
i was on the other side
of the border
the other side
of video calls

i had two video calls
and one hospital visit
with pops
before he passed

the first to hear of his near-death-experience
and how he spent time with Jesus in his coma
the second time to read him through Psalm 91 

i made enquiries, my family also made enquiries
the hospital, the state, the police
all of them needed to be involved
so i could be no longer on the other side

in the process of getting me home interstate
crossing a border, entering stricter covid laws
i was granted an exemption, to be able to visit
the hospital once, for an hour, before returning
to my identified point of residence to isolate
i was allowed home on compassionate grounds
but i was not the only one on the other side

my dads brothers, pops two sons
lived only four hours away but
on the wrong side of the border

a day pass was granted
enabling them to visit the hospital
and return interstate
within the same 24 hour period
thanks to the border police

yet it was still
the other side
the wrong side

for the same compassionate grounds
were not granted in the time of greater need
when long-suffering greeted a last breath
and the funeral planning was beginning

we discovered that the exemptions given to us
to visit the terminally ill in hospital
did not extend to us to attend the funeral

this time
i wasn’t on the wrong side
but sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren
they were on the other side
they were restricted

i m a g i n e
not being allowed
to attend
your own fathers funeral
i m a g i n e

my family, my uncles
they didn’t need to imagine
this was their reality

when you add
a border to the equation
of a four hour drive
there were no
compassionate grounds
in a newly-covid world

there was no means to come
to the funeral without either:
applying for special consideration
(which takes a week)
or self isolating for 14 days after

decisions in the face of death
are blurry enough
without a border
not to mention
the 10 person limit
on funeral attendees
(incl. funeral director, pastor)

i m a g i n e
having to live stream
your own fathers funeral

maybe technology
can soften grief
or maybe it only
creates an illusion
that life is not empty
when in reality
on the other side
of the screen
on the other side
of life
there is only
i n t i m a c y
to be found
or to be lost

maybe technology
can’t quite touch
the other side
the eternal side
of our longings
only revealing
our need
for family
and community
and belonging
and connecting
and healing

maybe on the other side
of the screen, of life
is a greater intimacy
with others, with God

my heart aches
and breaks
with those
who also had
this grief of griefs
this experience
on the other side
the wrong side

of grief
during covid-19

i know for me
… i was angry
not AT anyone
but angry FOR
what was lost

the grief
a d d e d
to grief

hands, love, grief

{ the other side of grief }

when i was a child
i called my grandfather

when he was brought out
of the induced coma
he wanted to tell me
about his time in hospital
how it was really just time
with Poppa + the Spirit + Jesus

he told me that Poppa told him
that he is chosen and so very loved;
and that he wanted to tell me
that Poppa said to tell me the same

the Spirit told him “it’s simple really”
we do not earn a place to be with Poppa,
Poppa chooses us because of His love
he LOVES us sooooooooooooooo much!

this was my first of two video calls
with my pops before my one and only visit
to see him in the hospital before he passed

my pops was not afraid of death
because it meant being with Poppa
and that is a beautiful thing

pops knew that on the other side of life
was an eternal intimacy and offering
to be with his heavenly Poppa forever

my mamabear had asked pops
how Jesus had fit onto his shoulder
when they had been together
during his time in the coma
apparently pops had corrected her
it wasn’t just Jesus on his shoulder
Poppa + the Spirit were there too
so of course mamabear asked:
“how did they all fit?!”

last saturday
pops would have been eighty-eight
he passed on silent saturday

i love how eugene cho states
that we are living in a broken friday, a silent saturday world
when he said this
i immediately wondered why
we do not live in light of resurrection sunday?

when pops passed on silent saturday
it would be so easy to stay in that place
asking questions of God (Poppa) and death
but God has already given us a new vision
an eternal invitation and covenant
a resurrection life
in his empty grave
and merciful grace

on the other side of grief
i am at peace knowing
pops is with his Poppa
where there is no more
s u f f e r i n g

but i am left wondering
on the other side
of screens, of life, of grief
if we are accepting
this invitation to intimacy
if we are making room for Jesus
just as Jesus makes room for us
in Poppa’s house (see john 14, below)

do Jesus, Poppa and the Spirit
fit in our lives, our schedules, our circles
or are they on the other side
w a i t i n g
for us to draw near and welcome them
into the empty spaces, the empty places
of our hearts and lives

John 14:1-3
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” 

2 Corinthians 5:8
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 

Respond from the Heart