This past weekend Lisa bid farewell to a beloved aunt of hers, “Aunt Sue”, her mom’s only sister. Lisa and her family grew up close to Sue and her family, both in proximity and affection. Sue was like a second mother to her. That side of the family were tightly knit, a typical “Deep South” extended family.
Sue had contracted pancreatic cancer in the last year, and had undergone many painful, physically punishing surgeries and treatments in an effort to defeat or at least beat the cancer into remission. Finally, having done all that was available in modern medicine, Sue was sent home to rest, try to enjoy what life she had left, and live her final days in her home of many decades, her family and friends by her side. Saturday afternoon we received word that Sue had passed on.
Lisa and I took the girls and headed south to Newnan on Monday, the day of the visitation and family time. It’s a shame that often, it takes a death or marriage in a family to bring relatives and old friends back together, who may not have seen each other in years. We enjoyed the times of catching up with long disconnected relatives, and spent time with immediate and extended family.
Lisa’s grief opened up when she viewed the body of her Aunt Sue in the casket, then talked and cried with her Uncle Larry and cousin Jay, Sue’s family. As I stood by in support, while weeping with her uncle, Larry observed, “She looked good in there, didn’t she, after all she had been through?” I immediately thought, that’s not her, that is the shell she left behind. I quietly spoke what I felt God had put on my heart in that moment- “Wait until we see her again; she looks really good now! In fact, perfect.”
I’m reminded of a few scriptures in the Bible that bear sharing for those who are Christ followers, as Sue was-
“We do not grieve as those who have no hope.” 1Thessalonians 4:13
“This corruptable must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:54
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man, what God has in store for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
So there is grief, at the final goodbye of a much loved relative. But there is relief as well- that her suffering here is over, and that she is healthy, whole, and fully restored, in the presence of her Saviour and the company of the saints and loved ones who have gone on before.
In that, there is joy, there is hope.