Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Different Kind of Lent: A Time of Grief

The dreaded phone call came on February 19. Our beloved Grandpapa was dead. My husband, who had been with his father at the very end, asked me to buy plane tickets, so that the children and I could fly to the States for his funeral. 

I happened to be out shopping at the time, and I was walking between our home and Alexanderplatz when I received the call. I immediately went home where my 12-year-old son had just returned from swim class. I told him and we had a good cry together on the sofa. My 10-year-old daughter was spending the night at a friend's house, so we had to wait until the next day to tell her. She knew, though, as soon as she walked through the door and saw the suitcases in the living room lined up to be packed. 

In my last post, I wrote about how I sensed it was going to be a different kind of Lent this year. It has certainly been that, because we as a family are in waters that we have never been in before. And it has been comforting to see how God has lovingly prepared my children for this difficult season of grief. 

Our aging Grandpapa came down with double pneumonia due to complications from a colostomy that he had in January. Though his physical condition had been slowly deteriorating over the past couple of years, he was the strongest of our grandparents, and the sudden severity of his illness took us all by surprise. Throughout his month-long stay in the hospital, we were very honest with our children. We prayed for Grandpapa's healing, but once it became clear that he was most likely not going to make it, my husband and I talked with the children about this.

Shortly after he entered the hospital, we began to read The Hiding Place, the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family during WWII. The Lord had placed this book on my heart to read during Lent, but He had more reasons for this than I knew. The last time I read  the book was about 20 years ago, and I had forgotten that the story begins with Corrie's elderly aunts and mother dying. In one particular passage, an elderly aunt with diabetes knows she only has days to live, and Corrie's father says to her, " . . . there is a joyous journey which each of God's children sooner or later must set out on . . . some go to their Father empty-handed, but you will run to Him with hands full!" (Because the aunt had lived her life for God.) My daughter interrupted me there and exclaimed, "Mom, that's just like Grandpapa! He will run to God with his hands full!" 

This image of Grandpapa coming to God "with his hands full", because of the way he had lived out his faith, helped and is still helping us in our grief. We shared this at his funeral and still think about it. Death sucks, to be quite honest, but God is still with us, even in death. And His promises of resurrection - of us and the world being made new someday -  shepherd us through the grief. But we are still grieving and will be for quite some time. 


  1. What you said is so full of hope. Praying for his true peace and comfort for you all, Sheila.