By Emma Dunbar
The topic of processing loss is near and dear to my heart as I lost my dad two and a half years ago suddenly to a heart attack. He was out shoveling the snow one Sunday so that we could all get out of the driveway and go to church that day. Well none of us ever made it to church because a half hour before we had to leave, my brother came running in the house screaming for my mom because dad had fallen and wasn’t breathing. From then on life would be a whole new journey that I did not think I would experience at the age of 24.
I don’t think we can ever prepare ourselves for the loss of a father. Actually I know we can’t. We can read about others losing their dad or someone can tell us about it but we never truly understand it until it happens to us. In the same way, we can never prepare someone else for the loss of their own father. We can share things that have helped us come through the loss and what was most effective, but there are no two father-daughter relationships alike. No one else’s experience will exactly align with the grieving process of another.
I am one of six kids who grew up in our Christian home. We were home schooled until high school, then we went to a small Christian school. We had been attending our church for about 13 years before our dad passed away. Dad was an usher and gave much of his time to the church. He also ran the scoreboard at all the basketball games at school. Everything was hard no matter where we went. My dad passed during the basketball season, so it was hard to go to games and see someone else sitting in the spot where he always sat. It was hard to see everyone we knew without him being around. Dad worked for a well-known real estate company in the area and knew so many people there.
DISBELIEF TO REALITY
Once he passed, it was hard for our family to move on. We think we are living in a dream when we finally realize it is our reality: my dad will not be walking through the door after work and he won’t be sitting at the dinner table anymore with my family. We have cried for days on end and wondered how this could happen to my family who has so faithfully served God. In the end, we realized that my dad has finally received the prize that he worked for his whole entire life: meeting Jesus face to face and entering through those pearly gates at the entrance of Heaven where God said, “well done my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
I never asked God why he would take the one man in my life that was so important to me and who guided me in every direction here on earth. I did, however, wonder how dad could be taken at such a young age and had so much more life to live. He had six kids and a wife to take care of, he had a job, and he was living life to the fullest when it suddenly ended in a second.
Nobody ever wants to go through the grieving process, but that is the best way to release our emotions and let our tears fall. It is scary to share our emotions with other people who don’t know what we are truly going through. We don’t want to put people in a position where they feel like they can’t help, but really all we want to do is vent to them. It becomes hard when people ask, “what does your dad do for a job?” and if I say, “He passed away in 2015.” Then people get super quiet and stop talking. I dislike this because I actually LOVE to talk about my dad and I will share stories with people of things he did to help me and others around him that were in need.
GRIEVING BRINGS HEALING
There is truly no way to ever process any kind of loss whether it’s a dad, sister, or child. When someone that is so precious to you and someone you have learned from, laughed with, and loved so much is snatched from your hands in a second, it is the hardest thing you will go through. I truly believe there is nothing more difficult than a loss of a family member no matter the circumstances and relationship we have with that person. If we don’t feel and grieve the loss in that moment, it will come at some point in our lives. I think I learned that lesson as time went on. I didn’t realize all the gracious things my dad did for me until I had to learn them on my own.
I think loss is a word from Satan because if we have our faith rooted in Jesus Christ there is NO way we will ever be truly defeated by darkness. We will have days where we may lose a battle because of certain situations, but in the end we have really won because Jesus paid it all for each and every one of us. Just like my dad entered the gates of heaven, Jesus is waiting right there for us to walk through those gates so he can tell us how well we have done in our lifetimes here on earth. So make it worth living for! You can keep your guard up against Satan at all times if you are well grounded in your armor of God and He will fight for you:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. There put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand our ground, and after you have done everything to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” – Ephesians 6:10-18