“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish. Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.” Psalms 25:16-18
Last week sometime I wrote a ‘Gleanings’ about how much I appreciate Steve’s presence and partnership in the midst of our grief journey. This is a truth for my life – a major blessing for which I praise the Lord.
A few days after writing that ‘Gleanings’ I got to spend some time talking to our daughter Joni about her experience with grief. She deeply misses her sister Becky and only one other person in the world can very precisely commiserate with that loss, the loss of a sister, and that is her other sister Kristin. Kristin is five hours a way, raising a family, loving her husband and very actively involved in her church. Kristin and Joni do talk and actually got some significant face-to-face talk time in mid-March when Joni made a weekend trip to Kristin and Christopher’s home. This was a good time of laughing together and enjoying one another. Jacob and the girls got to join them too, so that generation was together, loving each other. I know there was a Becky-shaped hole as they met, but lots of support flowed in that gathering. This time was hard and good, but life dictates that Kristin isn’t very available to Joni.
Joni is single. Over the course of years I’ve watched Joni come to enjoy her home, her job, and her life. She has found places of ministry and been a huge blessing in the lives of several young women at church. Her heart for high school girls has resulted in some long term friendships as these young girls grow up and move on, but keep coming back to Joni’s place. In addition she has blessed many brides-to-be with her admin and relational skills as she filled the role of Wedding Coordinator for them.
Becky’s death has rocked Joni’s contentment. The aspects of her life that once brought her a measure of pleasure and fulfillment somehow just don’t anymore. The quiet times alone in her home no longer feel good, instead they feel lonely. But this is a loneliness that isn’t readily helped. I think at the heart of it this loneliness wants Becky back. But since that is impossible, it is a loneliness that would be blessed to have one special someone who knows her inside and out and loves her unconditionally. This loneliness wants to rant and rave and flash anger and cry and still be loved. This loneliness wants to comfort someone else who feels losing Becky as deeply as Joni does. There are pluses and negatives to the single life, just like there are pluses and negatives to the married life. The thing about grief is that it is isolating by nature and can make a single life feel like solitary confinement – grief highlights, bolds, and underlines the loneliness of living single.
There is comfort in family and all of us have latched on to that comfort. Joni has friends who care about her and have expressed love and support. And the foundation of all comfort is the Lord and I know Joni turns to Him and depends upon Him. Part of me wants to play God again here – to somehow make all of Joni’s sadness go away. Of course I can’t, so instead I pray for this dearly beloved daughter and love on her at every opportunity. I like to pray scripture – here is a scripture that I pray for Joni: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Ps 27:13-14