A note from Kelly King: I’m at the age when many of my friends are experiencing the grief that comes when a parent dies. It is difficult to process the loss, even if you had a wonderful relationship with them. It can be more difficult to process if there was brokenness in the relationship. Whether you have experienced either, I pray Kaye’s words today will bring comfort.
Twenty-two years ago today, my dad breathed his final breath on this planet and his first in heaven. I am the youngest daughter of Richard and Joyce Brown. I have two older brothers and two older sisters. We all stood around his bed the night of his death. We sang, we prayed, and we cried.
It was sacred space. It was space filled with grief supported by the hope and belief that our dad is now in the presence of Jesus and we will see him again.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 says, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (NIV). I believe this. These verses do not say that we do not grieve; they say we grieve with hope. Even so, grieving is still painful; it is still a process, and it is complicated.
What complicates grief, especially as it relates to parent loss? I believe what complicates the grief of parent loss (most loss, really) is an unfinished story—theirs and ours. My parents died too young. Well, theologically speaking, they died at just the right time. However, by cultural standards they were young. My mom was 67, and my dad was 70. They both had so much more of life to experience. They died before I bought my first home and before I had children. Their stories were unfinished. They died before they could experience true freedom in Christ. Their stories were unfinished. This complicates my grief.
My grief for my parents is also complicated by the fact that parts of my story were buried with them and will remain unfinished. There are family facts, secrets, and truths I still need to hear. There are family of origin woundings and traditions I will never know. There are words of confrontation, love, and forgiveness that still need to be spoken. Words that will go unsaid. Stories that will forever be left untold. This complicates my grief.
So how do we reconcile what is left undone with what is? I have found it helpful to process the parts of my story left undone with a counselor and trusted friends. I have also found it helpful to write letters to both my mom and my dad. There were things I needed to say to them and questions I wanted to ask. I wrote my letters, read them out loud, prayed through the details of them, and then burned them. It was helpful.
Are you grieving the loss of a parent? Is your grief complicated? If it is not, I am so happy for you. Truly, that is a gift. I am also so sorry for your loss. If your grief is complicated, I invite you to process both orally and with a pen. Talk to a friend or counselor and write a letter. There is no okay time to lose your momma or your daddy. I am sorry for your loss. I pray now that the God of all comfort—the Man of Sorrows who is acquainted with grief—will bring you help, hope, and healing
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.