How do you say goodbye to the woman who taught you to tie your shoes? The reality for me happened in 2009. That year we buried my Granny.
She was so influential in my raising, and when she left this temporary home for her eternal home, the pain was unbearable. That pain was nothing compared to my loss in 2013. This was the year my Mother passed from her temporary home to her eternal home.
I was faced with the question: How do I say goodbye to the woman who gave me life? My emotions were all over the place, but to help me grieve I was able to put them into three emotions: Anger, Overwhelm and Grateful.
I can honestly say anger was at the top of my emotions when I had to watch the strongest woman in my life turn very weak and vulnerable. She lost her ability to be her own person and, in her words, “she had lost her dignity”.
Her health had robbed her of her retirement years and watching her only grandchild grow into the man he would become. My mom was the peacemaker, a teacher, a nurse and a warrior. She always pushed my sister and I to be more than we could see within ourselves, because life is hard and not for the faint of heart.
My mom overcome so much in her life. Especially with her health, she endured many years with health complications due to her family history. Those complications would put a test to her faith and endurance.
When thinking back on her endurance, Romans verse 5:1-5 comes to mind: Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that afflictions produce endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
This was the script used for her funeral. She endured so much affliction with her health, but always kept a positive attitude of hope that only proved her strong character.
This hope did not disappoint in the end, because it gave way to her eternal home. Although my anger was present, it was not viscous. It was overwhelming.
I cannot put into words how overwhelming this situation was to live. There is a verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you expect what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.”
This verse continuously resounded in my mind during the worst days. The last year of her life, everyday was a continuous fight to live and hold steadfast. I knew that God was not only walking with us, but carrying us through that last year because He knew we were all at our wits end.
The poem Footprints would always pop up in my mind and remind me that He is truly walking with us, but also carrying us to the finish even though it was hard to see on those harder days. I always felt like she was enduring the pain because the reality of leaving us behind was too big for her to overcome.
I assured her one night that if the pain was more than she could bear, we would be fine her without her because one day we would be reunited. She looked at me with her beautiful smile and said, “No this is not the right time.”
That time started to loom with each day the last six months of her life. My mom always had a sparkle in her eyes, and that sparkle slowly dimmed each day.
Then that final night before her death came. She had fallen out of her wheelchair and gotten a hairline fracture in her hip. The nurse told my Dad that night we needed to stay with her. In all the years she was in and out of the hospital, no one had ever told us we had to stay.
Dad called me to stay with her, as he was her primary caregiver and his health was not much better than hers. I always tried to step up when needed so he could have time to rest. I packed a bag, got some dinner and headed over to spend time with her, not knowing the outcome over the next day.
The next morning, she woke up early at 4 am to request some pain medication from the nurse. That was the last time I ever heard her voice. I got up to come home at 6 am to refresh myself and prepare for the day of waiting for her surgery.
Then the call came at 7:15 am from the hospital, “Ms. Hodges, your mom has taken a turn for the worse and we need your permission to take her to ICU and put her on a ventilator.” My heart was broken in that moment, but I knew she had endured enough and without asking my Dad I told the charge nurse, “No, if she has passed, let her be at peace.”
When I got to the hospital to identify her, I knew my decision was the right one because she looked so peaceful and she was no longer in pain. My mom had taught me to be a strong woman and in that moment Philippians 4:13, “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me,” came to mind. In my heart, I was grateful for her life and teaching she had given me to push forward.
My mom has been gone seven years, and in dealing with the grief I have learned to be grateful. This takes time to settle within your loss. The best way to know when you have reached this emotion is that the memories make you smile and laugh.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have days where my eyes are filled with tears at the loss of her, but that is just natural. My mom always taught us that strength comes from within and that strength is found in Christ.
To make sure everyone had an opportunity to know Christ, mom would always have the family Bible out in the house to help start the conversation, if needed. My mother pushed us to always live with gratitude and consideration of others, because you did not know their story. That small act of kindness could be the moment in that person’s life that changes everything for the better.
My mom was not the most active person at church, but in her act of kindness she was spreading the gospel within her family, friends and acquaintances. Never doubt your ability to bring others to Christ, as it may be the only time they are exposed to God’s word.
I feel so grateful God allowed us the time to prepare for her passing. Don’t get me wrong, you are truly never prepared for that day, but after someone has suffered that long you are grateful the suffering is over.
I would make a point to take picture memories for myself when spending time together. I knew her days were limited, and time would not allow me to always be able to see her physically. Those picture memories are not of her sick or in her wheelchair they are of her laughter, smile, and canny ability to allow everyone to feel comfortable in her presence.
If you are suffering from grief, know no one person grieves in the same way but the best way to push forward is to talk about your loved one. That may be with family, friends or a grief counseling group. Your emotional state needs to let out these emotions, and it takes time.
I would also recommend putting pictures out of your loved one when they were happy and healthy. The most important part of this process is be thankful they touched your life for that brief time. We love more than anything and life is hard without it, so make sure to love. 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Written by: Rhonda Hodges
Rhonda is a project manger by trade and helped start Heirloom Ladies. She has an adorable petite bernedoodle who keeps her entertained. She loves to read, write, and cook amazing recipes.