The Death of a Close Family Member

This is a very sensitive topic but one I think needs to be discussed. In life, if we live long enough, we will have to go through one of the roughest moments of our life: the death of a close family member. It is an inevitable reality that, if we live long enough, we will face. Therefore, I believe we should live with an understanding that this is a part of life and not try to dance around the topic. To those who feel the pain of losing a close family member, I know exactly how you feel. I believe this post will allow us as a community to come together and encourage one another as we try to navigate through life. To those who’ve never had to experience this, I want to share with you all 3 ways the death of a close loved one impacts us.

1. It forever breaks the original family unit that was together until meeting again in Heaven. Under normal circumstances, many of us were raised in a home with a mom, dad and maybe siblings. Within a traditional marriage there’s a wife, husband and maybe kids. If a part of that unit passes away, the family unit that existed doesn’t exist anymore. While the remaining family members will still be family members, the original unit that was together doesn’t exist on earth anymore. In my life, I was brought up in a home that had mom and dad. I had no siblings. Even though I got married in 2014 giving me the opportunity to have a wife, child and my dad with me, losing my mother in 2012 forever broke the original family I had of me, my mom and my dad. My mother’s death was expected within our household, but it doesn’t take away the hurt and emptiness of losing a parent. When me and dad are together, it feels like something is missing. That something missing is my mom. Many of you all reading my post have lost a parent, spouse or even worse a child. I’m firmly convinced that once you lose a close family member, your world is never the same again. As a married man now, every now and then I think about the reality that either my wife or I will have to navigate life without the other physically. It’s a harsh reality but one that I know one of us will have to face. There’s a particular person on my mind that lost his wife I think a year or so ago. I used to see him and his wife together everywhere from the grocery store to restaurants. Now he’s in these places by himself and it hurts me every time I see him. The hope that we’ll meet again in Heaven is comforting, but it doesn’t take away all of the pain of the family link being forever broken.

2. It is a harsh reminder of our own mortality. For whatever reason and I know it’s not true, it feels like ever since my mom passed away or was in the final stages of her life that everyone I know has left this world. It has been a huge reminder that what they’ve done I will have to do one day. I think losing my mother highlighted that reality even more. Yes I’ve been to funerals and viewings, but it is nothing compared to having to go to the viewing of a close family member that you shared many memories with. I think sometimes we have the mindset that certain things won’t happen to us just because. Losing a close family member sends a humbling message that all of us will die a physical death and then as a Christian my belief is that we will be judged by Christ. Being reminded of my own mortality has been a spark plug into doing the things God has called me to do. Death is a reminder that we’ve only been blessed with one opportunity to make an impact in this world. Physically speaking, death is final and there is no return. I want to encourage all of us to pursue with a passion what God has called us to. Life is so uncertain. There is no need to have this “I’ll do it tomorrow” mindset because you may not get tomorrow.

3. It makes you cherish more the remaining family members we have left. Like never before I try hard to cherish my father and the wife/daughter God has blessed me with. I try to do this by being available as much as possible, doing whatever I can to love them and just thanking God for their lives. I believe a lot of us don’t cherish the things we have until they are gone. Many of us take for granted the blessings we have and really don’t appreciate them until it’s too late. Death can sometimes be a huge reminder that we didn’t cherish the person that is gone now. Once the person is gone, it’s too late to tell them that you love them and are thankful for them because they can’t hear it. That’s why we always say to give people their flowers while they are alive. In losing my mother, I believe I did the best I could to take care of her and love her, but at the same time I have regrets that I didn’t value her as much as I should have. There’s nothing I can do about that now, but I still have my father and wife/daughter and I will do everything I can to appreciate them while they are alive.

I know that this topic is sensitive, but I want to be a source of encouragement to those of us grieving loss and also empower everyone with information on what a person grieving is going through. The last few years, particularly in my neck of the woods, we’ve seen so many people leave this world and many of them were young. As I said earlier in this post, life is so uncertain. I’ve had to view the bodies of people who I never thought I would see in a casket at that early of an age. At the end of the day life is short and precious. We have to treat life as a precious commodity.

To those who haven’t experienced the loss of a close family member, pray for those you know who are grieving while also keeping in mind that if you live long enough, your day is coming soon. To those who like me have experienced the loss of a close family member, I am with you. I love you and I support you. Remember that it is a healing process and it’s ok to admit when you’re having a down day. Surround yourselves with people who don’t mind being a listening ear to you. Last but not least, remember that God is by your side. His love will continue to keep and guide your heart. Be encouraged!Yancey Family

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