4-part series on grieving Grieving Homeschooling Inspiration When life is tough

3 Resources That Comfort When Life is Tough

It’s been quiet but productive around the homestead this week. There has been cold wind, treacherous ice, and standard difficulties, but when I focus on those things then sings my soul from somewhere in me but apart from me, reminding me I am blessed. I am reminded that even in the hard moments there is indeed reason to sing.

3 resources that comfort

This is the second in a four-part series about grieving the loss of a loved one. In the final post, I’ll be sharing very specific ways others helped me throughout these difficult months as I floundered through the heartbreak of loosing both of my parents in such a short time. My hope is to provide my own personal experiences with grief as an insight into what others in your life might be feeling, as well as a practical list of ways we can help others who are grieving. }

On the Homestead This Week

One daughter braided many new rows on her rug. The chicken have been enjoying increased hours of daylight and are back in the egg-laying business, at least part time. My husband excitedly spent many hours assembling his reverse osmosis system for our maple syrup making set up this year. (Much more about that in upcoming posts… we’re getting excited as syrup season nears.) And we baked. A lot. (I’ll also be sharing my daughter’s amazing Artisan bread recipe in a post soon.) While I enjoy the productivity, the beauty, and the deliciousness then sings my soul.

then sings my soul

then sings my soul

reverse osmosis system for maple syrup making

then sings my soul

then sings my soul

then sings my soul

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Yet the loss of my parents is still a very fresh scar on my heart, and I spent many bittersweet hours again this week going through another box. As I flip through pages and hold well-worn memorabilia and memories from my youth (like Dad’s straight razor and Mom’s hair teasing comb), then sings my soul.

The Last Evening of November

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bear my innermost silent chambers of my heart today, but I realized that doing so will help my soul sing louder. And after rolling the thoughts over in the corners of my mind, I decided it’s just too beautiful not to share. Ultimately, out of respect to my immensely beautiful Mom, knowing she would want me to tell everyone that I can, because it would give honor to her Savior, I decided to share…

One chilly evening, the last one of November, my brother, parents, and I shared precious hours that will always be a part of who I am. Mom was happy to be home, out of the hospital where she had spent 17 days battling the difficult results of chemotherapy treatment.

She smiled as I read to her my aunt’s note that had come in the mail that week, and she spoke to her baby brother on the phone—appropriately discussing farm animal difficulties and details about our cow, chicken, and ducks (one of Mom’s favorite topics to discuss with her brother, who still runs the family farm on the broad, gradually sloping hillside in West Virginia).

She listened as a few of her life-long friends and I stood around her bed and sang one last hymn (one of my daughter’s favorite as a young girl: What a Friend we have in Jesus). I read (for the tenth time probably) a daughter’s note to Mom—about how she treasures Isaiah 41:10. With hands all joined around Mom’s bed, I prayed over her. I prayed for my oldest daughter too, that she would not feel too far away or lonely while she was studying in South Africa.

The Joy of Life

After company left, we dimmed the lights. I sat holding the hands of the two most important people in the world to me—Mom and Dad’s hands were clasped within mine.

My brother held mom’s other hand, and we sat quietly listening to hymns together.

Knowing mom would need medicine around the clock, my brother offered to take the wee hours of the morning shift if I wanted to take the late-night shift. Being the night owl that I am, I was glad to sit with mom, with quiet enveloping us, over the hushed hymns playing on my computer.

I had done this before many times in the prior 17 days, but that night there were no IV lines climbing up her arm, plastic hospital bracelets wrapped around her wrist, or buzzers and commotion intruding upon our time. It was just mom and I sitting together in the home where she had fixed countless meals for my family, baked Easter cakes and dyed eggs with my daughters, played cards and board games, and watched World Series games surrounded by the people who meant the world to her.

In the quiet minutes of the dark morning, with the men of our immediate foursome sound asleep, it was just her and I.

The two of us who had the joy of bringing life into this difficult-but-wonderful world were the two who were privileged to witness her moment of crossing out of this world. She left behind the current painful joys for eternal beautiful realms that I must only imagine for now.

She was sleeping deeply. Soundly.

I had just put in a new CD. With “How Great Thou Art” playing quietly and with me gently holding her head, she took her last breath and met Christ.

Then Sings My Soul

While I will forever miss her, in this life, I know with certainty I will spend a beautiful eternity with her, and she is experiencing a level of bliss right now that is beyond understanding on this side of eternity.

I am blessed, not only to have been born into the beautiful foursome that sat holding hands together that chilly November night, but also to have known sweet Irene as “Mommie.” I am blessed, not only to have gotten to spend almost every minute of her last weeks with her, but also to have a husband and daughters who joyfully let me lay aside all responsibilities to them and the homestead for an indefinite time so I could be with my mother when I longed to do so.

A Tremendous Blessing of Homeschooling

The last few long months have made me more thankful for homeschooling than any other life season ever has.

1-  I’m thankful my teen daughters could focus on the work they could complete independently, and simply set aside the other work until I returned. For the month I was absent, they focused heavily on certain subjects and since I’ve been home we’ve caught up on the others. If I had younger children when a major family event pulled me away from school work, they would have just traveled with me and we would have finished school later in the year, no biggie.

2- I’m thankful that my teen daughters could be home, in my absence, to keep the homestead running, make sure laundry and cleaning was done, and keep meals on the table, all between their school lessons. And of course they learned how to do all those things early on in their lives because they were home with me during the day to be part of meal planning and house chores. They were part of all of that, intricately, when they were young, when they still found it all fascinating. They were part of it when it was a privilege to be doing the “grown up” things, so when it was time that they were needed to support others, and truly do the “grown up” things, they were willing and prepared to do so.

3-  I’m thankful they could connect with me, in Mom’s hospital room, via FaceTime and messaging, whatever time of the day that I was available and mom was alert and could hear them, not having to coordinate around a typical school day timetable.

4-  But I am mostly thankful that my daughters were an intricate, daily part of a major family event as it played out, day by day. I had the joy of having my daughters there every day when Dad came to live with us for his last month. Dad got to spend long quality hours with them every day, as an integral part of their day. He sat with us as we worked through stoichiometry problems and read about ancient Egypt. He enjoyed leisurely breakfasts and long lunches with them. He joined in on afternoon farm chores with them. He even went sledding with them during their PE time. I appreciate now, more than ever before, that homeschooled children can be an intricate part of major family life events as they happen, right in the midst of their lessons.

5- And, finally, I’m thankful that major family events become a lesson–a writing lesson and a life lesson–as my daughter explains on her blog this week.

How Great Thou Art

But in the midst of so much heartache, I am most blessed by my assurance that I will indeed be with my Mommie and Daddy again. “When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

then sings my soul

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then sings my soul

then sings my soul

________________

“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” II Corinthians 4:17

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I want to share with you a few resources that have given me great comfort over the past few weeks.

First, I pulled a Spurgeon devotional off the shelf (Morning and Evening) a few days after Dad died and it spoke volumes to me. It was extra special to me given that it was a copy from 1955, a second printing, from my grandmother’s bookshelf. But no matter when your version was printed or what the cover looks like, you absolutely can’t go wrong with this devotional. There’s one page for each morning… He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. Isaiah 50:4. And one page for each evening… On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:7. 

Then, at Dad’s funeral service, a friend handed me a devotional book that I can’t get enough of: The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller. I find I revisit most day’s teachings more than once. It’s that kind of book, and it’s been so good for my aching heart. As Keller explains, the Psalms are a “medicine chest for the heart and the best possible guide for practical living.”

Then there’s my daughter’s new journaling Bible that she purchased right after her PapPap passed away.

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Time spent meditating over God’s word while she makes it look artfully pretty has been a soothing balm for her, as well as for me when I discover her latest design left open on the kitchen table.

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How the most difficult losses made me appreciate homeschooling more | why homeschooling is more important in the tough times-3

why I am thankful I homeschool when life is tough

three resources for grieving

why I am thankful I homeschool when life is tough

Please take a second to follow along here on SoulyRested to catch up on a few of my memorable mishaps, enjoy musings about my centuries-old farmhouse, or glean a little parenting/homeschooling insight from this momma who’s been failing at the effort for almost 2 decades. How great thou art

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5 Comment

  1. Thank you so much for this blog, God has used you. I´ve had several good cries since finding your sight about 2 weeks ago. I grew up in Connecticut and now live in Alabama. I do miss the beautiful Autumn and snow ( though not the shoveling). I´ve been missing my parents alot since November. My father passed away 5 years ago in November (1 day before my son´s birthday), and my mother´s home going 5 year anniversary will be in July ( 1 day before my anniversary). I was the one going through their house and things which was very hard, but also gave me a lot of time to grieve in private. I am very thankful for the time to remember them as I went through their things. How Great Thou Art is my favorite song and I sang it, and worshipped with it many times during those times. Thank you for sharing. Isn´t our God wonderful? His peace certainly is beyond comprehension.

    1. Thank you, Thalma, for taking the time to comment. It truly means the world to me to know that my sharing is helping someone else. It’s been difficult (yet simultaneously therapeutic) to share my heartache, but God is so good in letting me know that it is having a positive impact on others… there’s no better reason to write. Ever.

  2. I too was homeschooling my son when my father passed away……It will be 8 years ago this Valentine’s Day that Dad left Mom and me and my sisters, Luckily we all (daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and Mom) went to see him in the hospital 3 days before he breathed his last. My little family was at church when we received the call that Dad was gone……next we met for his funeral at the Military Cemetary…..all cried during the service. Years pass and now my son is in the military because of his Grandfather’s beliefs and because of his own love of this country. Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things to endure in this world, but I look with hope to see my family all together again beside the Creator. Thank-you for telling your story, and allowing me to share mine. ~ Blessings ~ Cissy

    1. Thank YOU for sharing, Cissy. How beautiful that your Dad’s lasting impact on your son influenced where he is today so obviously. Yes, I have to agree, the separation that death causes is truly the hardest thing I’ve had to endure in this world. Thanks for taking the time to share.

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