Grieving My Aunts Sudden Death, Right Before Giving Birth

I received a text message from my mother before I had gotten out of bed, “Call me when you’re up. It’s important.”

I immediately got out of bed, my heart beating faster. I knew something very bad had happened, because there is no way she should ever text me like that otherwise. I tried to prepare my still sleepy mind for terrible news. Somebody I love must be badly hurt, or dead. I just didn’t know who. Part of me did not want to know, but delaying the phone call would not change anything.

I went into the bathroom and quietly called her. There were no typical pleasantries. We both knew there was only one reason for this phone call. There was no way to sugar coat the news, “Aunt Cookie is dead”.

Then, silence on my end. My head swimming with the abrupt finality of those words. Injured, or sick leaves room for hope. Death is unforgiving, leaving no space for second chances.

How? When? What on earth happened?

Not so many details yet. She was at a friend’s house. She overdosed on her medications. No one knows if it was intentional, or accidental.

She was hospitalized recently for suicidal depression. She had battled depression her entire life, but she had lost over 100lbs in recent years and seemed to be doing better. Did she do it intentionally? Then again, she was known to occasionally abuse her medications. In an attempt to get relief from her mental stress, she would take too many benzos or opiates. That is an easy way to accidentally overdose, and given her age and health status, it would be even easier.

Either situation leaves us in sudden grief. A poor decision made in haste, clouded by depression. She is gone. There is no way to bring her back to us. My cousins, and second cousins have lost their mother and grandmother. My mother and aunts have lost their sister. I have lost my aunt.

And I am nearly 40 weeks pregnant.

How do I manage death and new life simultaneously? How does my family embrace, and celebrate a new addition; while saying goodbye to another loved one?

And then, the practical concerns that plague those coping with death. The Funeral. The wake. What if I go into labor at the same time as the funeral service? How could I possibly miss it? How could I ask my mother to help me, support me, watch my children during labor if she is supposed to be saying goodbye to her sister?

All of this is sitting inside of me, eating me up.

We describe deep sadness as our “heart breaking”, or “soul crushing”. It is a not just a figure of speech, it literally feels as if my heart is breaking and my soul is being crushed. There is a physical element to emotional pain that is undeniable, and it is with me all day today. I am carrying that heaviness, just as real as my toddler on my hip and heavy baby in my womb.

I didn’t have a way to prepare for this. Life is often interrupted by a series of uncontrollable events. We are really not in control of many things, despite pretending otherwise.

As a believer, this is a time for me to get grounded in the Word. To remember that He is in control, and knows all things. He is our comforter, our healer, and our refuge in times of need. I have to trust in Him, to continue to guide this pregnancy until birth. I have to trust him, even in the face of death and loss. I am reminded of my mortality as well. We are not promised tomorrow, so let’s make the best of today. And remember to tell our loved ones how much we value them in our lives, because you may not have another chance.

Shalom.

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The Lies of the Enemy vs. The Glorious Truth

I have been very busy lately with the end of this semester fast approaching, along with life’s other obligations. I’ve been able to spend some time praying though, and it has brought up a theme for me; resisting temptation and the lies of the enemy.

This is in stark contrast to the promises of Yahweh, and what he can offer us to sooth our weary souls.

For those us with mental illness and/or addiction, we tend to experience emotions in a BIG way. Often we are just overwhelmed by them, and hence we seek out a way to ease that pain. The enemy tells us “I have these drugs, all kinds of drugs, pick one…it will sooth your suffering and take it all away”. Or maybe it’s sex, gambling, taking big risks; anything that takes us out of the pain and brings us a rush.

But as we know, this never lasts. In fact, when the high wears off we are much worse off than when we first started. Not to mention the trauma, the family rifts, and many other consequences of our using that we now have to deal with. The enemy lies to us, and by the time we realize we are trapped in this cycle of addiction and pain, we face a huge struggle to climb back out.

But we don’t have to do it alone. The entire time we were searching, searching, searching for that fix—that high—that thrill, He was waiting with his arms outstretched to us with real hope.

The enemy tells us, “Go ahead, indulge yourself and feel better”

“Go ahead, follow your own desires and thrills”

“Go ahead, I can make you feel better than you ever imagined.”

When this fails, when we end up doing nothing and sacrificing everything for that fix/that false cure—we end up often considering suicide. Imagine how the enemy feels when he tricks us into following his way, and then takes our very life from us? That is exactly what he wants to do; steal, kill, and destroy.

You know how horrible it feels when a young person dies, because that had to feed that addiction? Or a middle ages person dies and leaves their children and spouse, questioning and devastated?

It is as if we can see how things could have been. In an alternate universe, in a world where their life had a difference ending; we can see how much was lost for this addiction. It is so breathtakingly sad. It was almost my fate as well.

This is a song by R.E.M called “Country Feedback”, and I listened to it a lot as teen. Part of the refrain goes like this;

“It’s crazy what you could have,
Crazy what you could have had,
I need this…I need this…”

I used to cry so hard at that, because it cut to my soul. I knew I could have another life. I saw a future that could have been mine; college, love, children, etc. but I needed my high so badly that I just couldn’t have it. I could feel that other future, and its loss (and my inability to stop myself) was so gut wrenching.

Of course, my future is not what I believed it would be but ONLY because I have resisted and fought and clawed my way out of that abyss.

Yahushua (Jesus) tells us that we must hate even our very own life to be his disciple. What he means by that is, we must put him first and follow him no matter what.

We used to put drugs first, which leads to death…

We used to put risk taking first, which leads to death….

We used to put sex first, which leads to death….

We used to put cutting/self-injury first, which leads to death…

But now,

Oh now we have something glorious!

We put HIM first, which leads to LIFE!

HalleuYah. Amen.

We all struggle, if you are being tempted please remember that no temptation will overtake you that you cannot overcome with HIM. He always gives us a way out, he always shows us the narrow path that leads to life and bids us to walk in in—with Him.

I wish healing for you all.

Shalom.