The Marreros’ story has an undeniable glow about it. The Light from within each of them radiates redemption and Hope to everyone in our community and beyond… The Lord does not waste moments like these – He has a way of making His Name clearly seen and heard in situations that hurt the most, like when a child is taken from the land of the living. Even when the child is 26 years old.
Sandy Marrero has an assurance- a peace- that is otherworldly, even during these dark days of grief. She says of her beloved son’s humanness, “He’s been redeemed; it’s all been washed in the blood.” She tells the story in this interview of Leland’s coming to Jesus when he was 6. And this is how she can be sure that He’s with His Maker in Heaven.
We really CAN know where we’re going after we die.
See 2 Peter:1:11 (If you make the trust shift from self to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life,) “God will give you a lavish reception into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
And John 6:40, which makes this promise; “For this is My Father’s will and purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him [as Savior] will have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] on the last day.”
The littlest Marrero, Camille, just gave her heart to this same Savior that Leland has served since he was 6. It’s amazing- one day, a child is carried Home in the arms of Jesus, then on another day (2 weeks later,) another child makes one simple decision, is carried into His fold here on earth and guaranteed entrance into Heaven at her appointed time.
It’s important to note something here- Camille was not automatically a Christian just because she was born into a Jesus-following family. Her salvation choice was all her own. Since she did choose, by faith, to accept Christ’s invitation, once she arrived at her “pivot point,” she is now a “Christ-follower” herself. Now, Camille and Leland are more “brother and sister” than they ever have been since both are connected eternally through space and time in the Bond of Jesus.
On this week’s episode, I wonder out loud how much energy it must take for a human being to suppress questions about death and what happens in the after life….. I know people who do it; you know people…you gotta admire them. Think how much work it would take to convince yourself NOT to think about something, anything- especially this thing…How can that which was formed into human form, stifle the questions written on the human heart? It’d be like a fish swimming around and all the while, denying the existence of water….. Think how hard that fish would have to work to believe that…. Poor, tired fish.
May this help us have more compassion on those who don’t know our Savior just yet.
Leland’s favorite book of the Bible offers us much comfort and assurance in times like these, when sorrow seems a close companion and we can’t make sense of things. In the first few chapters of Job’s story, we read that satan actually has to go to the Throne to obtain permission to harass God’s friend Job and he also had to follow restrictions set by God, Himself.
This reminds us that everything that happens to us has to first pass through the Father’s Hand. We see that satan is on a very short leash and God is at the other end.
Grieving is such a tricky thing- everyone’s process is different and the steps all overlap and crisscross, from what I’ve seen….Linda Rodebaugh, a nursing professor and her colleagues described 4 stages of grief in the journal “Nursing.” This article is almost 20 years old but it’s timeless in quality of content.
The 4 stages Linda lists are Reeling, Feelings, Dealing, Healing. I’ll break these down for you;
Reeling- this is typically called the “denial” phase, where the bereaved finds herself in a state of shock and can’t quite believe the truth of her beloved’s passing.
Feelings- the stage in which the bereaved might have severe mood swings, physical pain, feel afraid of being alone or isolate herself. Sleep patterns often change during this stage.
Dealing- This is the part where the grieving person feels inclined to cope with her loss practically. She may begin to reach out for professional support, go through the beloved’s belongings, returning to mundane tasks or back to work.
Healing- involves integrating the loss as part of a bigger story and moving forward- this is not to say the bereaved has “gotten over” the loss or forgotten the one they lost; they’re just learning to live life with the loss.
Again, all 4 of these stages (Reeling, Feelings, Dealing, Healing) can overlap and criss cross each other at any time for a long time… Keep in mind there’s no clean process and everyone moves at a different pace.
Here are some things (and phrases) you might want to avoid (generally speaking-again, no hard and fast formula here.)
-Don’t overwhelm your grieving friend with long texts or fb messages-
especially if you haven’t seen or spoken to them in a while.
-Don’t put the burden on the one grieving by asking questions they can’t answer like, “What do you need?”
Don’t say things like;
“At least, he’s not suffering any more.”
“We know he’s in a better place.”
“I cannot imagine…”
“Time to move on now… it’s what he’d want…”
“What can I do to make you feel better?”
“I wish I could take all your pain away.”
For most of these, an explanation is not necessary. But if you’re like me, some of these statements sound like things I’ve asked or said, almost verbatim. … Yikes.
Ultimately, each case is as different as the individual, so the best thing to do is pray for sensitivity with your friend. And remember, we’re all clumsy at these things, so give yourself grace. Don’t expect to do it perfectly.
As far as what TO DO, the overarching themes I’ve heard today from the Marreros and from others I know who have experienced deep grief are;
-Listen more than you speak,
-Enter in to the grief with her; don’t fix.
-Give her your heart, your presence, not your down pat answers or handy scripture verses.)
-When you see something that needs to be done, just do it.
-DO say the name of the loved one lost.
-Encourage her to engage in the grief, express what they’re feeling by talking, documenting, sobbing, blogging….
And if you’re the one grieving, (per Susanna’s advice,)
“Don’t place any expectations on yourself” for a while.
Patrick Doyle of Veritas Counseling says that grieving is to be thought of not so much as a pit, but as a tunnel. By being present and offering a listening ear, we can shed little lights along the way inside the tunnel.
When it comes to matters of the heart, some of us have a tendency to pull way back and not enter into the tunnel at all for fear of doing it wrong… But if you’re close to the person, chances are, they’ll want your presence, your heart, your light.