(Part 9 in a 11 part series based on John Piper’s booklet, “Don’t Waste You Cancer)
#9 –We waste our cancer if we grieve as those who have no hope.
There is a grieving that goes with realizing our bodies are mortal, that life will end. When you have a disease that could easily take your life, there is a keen awareness of mortality and losses. Just the last few days I’ve reflexed on some of them:
- Soft kisses from my lover brushing my cheek
- Freshly mowed grass along the highway
- Lake water lapping onto shore
- Squeezes from an adult child, torn between leaving and staying
- Text from a friend; she misses me
- Hillsides brimming with crops to feed a nation
There is so much that I will miss, and I grieve it. Dispite descriptions of pearly gates and streets of gold, right now I’d pick a snow covered mountain and another Christmas with family.
Some people don’t understand or share my grief. I’ve been told I’m “negative.” Others are not living my life; they cannot feel it slipping away. At times, I’m very alone in grief and it makes it more intense. It’s as if I’m walking around naked but no one will talk about it. I know it; they know it, but it’s unmentionable.
Sometimes people skip over the current grief and jump into the hope of heaven. That is really difficult. It feels like we are ignoring nakedness and jumping to a wedding dress. Right now, I’m naked!
It’s when someone enters into my state of grief, we can begin to hope together.
And I don’t grieve as someone who has no hope. John Piper talks about 2 Corinthians 5:8 and 2 Thessalonians 4:13 – wonderful verses of encouragement. My greatest hope is in seeing Christ face to face. I know what he has meant to me here on earth, through his Holy Spirit. He has given hope and faith and love far beyond what I think I would have known without him. Even in the midst of my human grief, his Spirit comforts me like a deep, fluffy comforter I can snuggle down into. I have a hard time envisioning how I would be handling this if I did not know Christ.
And I have hope for the future, no doubt. I have hope for healing, temporarily in this present life as well as in eternity. But I do bristle when people breeze by the pain of the present. I am very aware of the fear of the pain of dying. There is anxiety in trying to do things right, to maximize time. There is separation in death, even if it is only for a time. I don’t know everything about eternity. And there are things about earth I don’t want to forget.
John Piper said it succinctly: “There is a grief at death.” I trust that we can meet each other honestly in that grief. In fact, there is something even holy about it. As Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn.”(Matthew 5:4) A level of relationship is revealed through our mourning, loving someone/something so much that we feel overwhelmed, out of control, with a sense of separation and loss.
It’s only when we love enough to really mourn, can we be comforted.
We mourn from many losses. What gives you hope in the midst? How does it help when others identify with your grief?
Beautifully and honestly written, Maggie. My mom has just had her first visit with the hospice nurse. My sister described my mom as “shell-shocked” by the reality that is settling in. I don’t see her as afraid of death either, but definitely with fear of the dying process. I have that for her too. Thank you for expressing authentically how I can help her, my siblings, and myself to grieve with truth and hope together.
My heart and prayers go with you and your family at this time. I know for me, the last few weeks with my mother were some of the most precious of my life. I’m so glad what I am going through can be a help. That is why I offer it.
Just to assure everyone, something has not happened so that we got bad news on my cancer. I go today for a check up, but am not expecting anything negative. I’m not depressed. However, I do grieve that I have cancer and have to deal with it in my life. At the same time, I celebrate life and waking up each morning. I’ve received an email and call from dear, sweet people who are concerned for me.
Grief enters all our lives. I’m sure this has touch grief in the lives of those who have read it. It’s a tough subject, and I was determined to write with transparency. It’s not wrong to grieve. Jesus cried, even knowing he was the “resurrection and the life.” It’s part of our mortality. As John Piper said, let’s not waste it but have it do it’s work to remind us both of mortality and eternity.