A year ago today we lost my father-in-law. Shock doesn't even describe the feeling I got when I got that phone call.
Today we will celebrate. We will celebrate his love, his life. We will probably fight back (or not fight back) tears. We will smile when we see Don's face in little Joe's eyes and expressions. Today, we will give thanks for the gift of having Don in our lives, and for the promise of eternal life through Jesus.
There's a really great blog post being shared on Facebook about what to do when someone in your life is grieving. It's good - read it, do it.
My advice on what to do when someone in your life experiences tragedy? Show up. You don't have to know the right words (and, as that blog points out, saying the wrong thing or admitting you don't know what to say is better than not saying anything). You don't have to know what to do. Just show up.
That night, a year ago today, my mom quickly rearranged everything (she was watching my sister's kids, and my sister's in-laws jumped up and took them so my mom could be with us), my dad drove through the night from St. Louis (he was at a medical conference), my dear friend rushed over to watch my sleeping baby so I could be with my husband and his mother.
I will never forget and forever be grateful for every single person who showed up for us. Friends flew in from across the country. Friends took time off in the middle of their work day for the funeral. I will never forget looking up and seeing our entire small group, dressed more formally than I had ever seen them, walking in and taking a seat for a funeral for a man they did not know because they loved us. My friend who had a newborn had her husband drive around in circles with the baby during the viewing so she could give me a hug. Another friend, the wife of Robert's business partner, rocked and walked with Joe for over an hour at the viewing while he slept so I could stand in the receiving line.
When my sister emailed us to ask how we were (she was in China. Good gravy, why can no one ever just be home when tragedy strikes?), my response was this, "We are sad but well cared for. My house is full of meals, carbs, and booze."
The journey of grief is hard and long, but it's so much lighter when you aren't alone.
When Jesus knew he was about to be taken away and crucified, thereby pouring out grief and hardship on his followers, these were some of his last words to them.