Friday, 1 April 2011

Giving voice to my feelings of grief

It's funny how smells can trigger memories.

I had been spray painting the Boy Warriors cardboard creations and had paint on my hands. I got out the bottle of turpentine to remove the paint and suddenly I was in another time and place. I remembered how on a Monday morning in primary school, I would go down to my father's garage to have my finger nail polish removed. I was about 6 years old and my Dad took my hand and put some turps on a cotton ball and proceeded to remove the colour from ny nails. The memory bought tears to my eyes.

My father was involved in a motorcycle accident in July 1991. I was 17 at the time and working in Longreach as a radio announcer. My parents were in Toowoomba. When I got the phone call that he had had an accident, I made the long bus journey to Brisbane where he was in the intensive care unit in a coma.

My eldest sister had become a follower of Christ a year before and told our family that people had been healed and we can pray for God to heal Dad. I held on to this glimmer of hope. The doctors called a family meeting and told us they could do nothing more for my father and they were moving him out of ICU into the normal ward as they needed his bed. The ward my father was moved into had around 10 active patients in it. There was no privacy. There we were, my mother, my 3 sisters and 2 brothers all around my father's bed, surrounded by a bunch of strangers. After my father had been taken off the machines, it didn't take long for his body to shut down and he left this earth.

My father made this work bench out of an old door. It's now in our garage.
I did the only thing I knew to do - I ran. I ran down the fire escape down many flights of stairs and then I ran out of the hospital. I ran down the street, tears streaming down my face. 'NO! This was not happening. How could this be happening?' The first few days after my father had died was surreal. I couldn't understand that the world was just going on as normal. I wanted to scream at everyone I saw ,who was going about their business as usual., 'My father just died! How can you be acting so normal?'  My world was far from normal. In fact, my world came crashing around me that day.

I remember a year later standing in a park in the middle of the night screaming at God.'Why God? Why did you have to take my Dad? It's not fair!' I was so angry at Him. In my limited theology I blamed God for taking my Dad from me. In reality though, my father was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a fatal error that another driver made that caused my father's death - not God. But at the time I didn't understand that. It would be a year later, at 19 years of age, that I would accept my Heavenly Father's invitation to become His Daughter, by accepting that His Son died for me.

The boys use the work bench made by their grandfather that they never had the opportunity to meet.
Every time I attended a 21st birthday party and the father of the person celebrating a birthday would give a speech, I cried. I felt the loss all over again, knowing that my father would never give that speech. When I was 25, I remember when my house mate's parents came to stay. One morning I got up and saw that her father had risen before anyone else, and was sitting in a chair reading his bible, I cried. When I was at bible college and the new principal came who was very fatherly, I cried.

Grief is a journey. After almost 20 years, at times I still cry at the loss of my father. I miss him dearly. I feel sad when I look at my boys and think how much they would have loved my Dad and vice versa. In my mind's eye I see my Dad being silly with my boys, and my boys roaring with laughter at his antics. I told Leader Boy Warrior once that one of his grandfather's favourite songs was, 'Don't Worry Be Happy'. A few days later I heard him singing the song and he said to me, "Mum. I'm practicing singing the song so that I can sing it to Pop when I see him in Heaven."
My father's jumper that now hangs in my cupboard.
I remember on the 10th anniversary of my father's death, driving with Mighty Prince Warrior to the place where we were to scatter Dad's ashes. I felt such an urgency to write. As we drove, I wrote and as I wrote - tears fell. It was painful to feel the emotions as I wrote, but when I was done writing, I felt such a release. I can see now why psychologist and counsellors encourage journalling. There is such power in releasing your emotions and putting them into words. There is such strength to be gained by giving voice to your feelings.

In the last few months my grief was triggered when a friend of mine committed suicide, and again when a friend lost her friend to cancer. When grief overcame me in years gone by, I had no idea how to cope. But now I have learned to allow the grief to come and to go with it, rather than run from it. I have learned to turn to my journal and give voice to the feelings welling up inside me. I have allowed the tears to flow. Tears are healing. Tears are a release. Tears are precious.

The Lord God will wipe away every tear from every face. ~ {Isaiah 25:8}You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.~ {Psalm 56:8}
My Heavenly Father journals too. He records every tear and sorrow in His book. He sees my tears and collects them in His bottle. You only collect things that are precious to you. My King sees my tears as something valuable enough to collect, and store in a bottle.

My father died before he reached his 50th birthday.
The day I got married and I didn't have my father here to walk me down the aisle, I chose to walk down the aisle to meet my groom alone. Although, I wasn't alone. My Heavenly Father was there, and as I walked down the aisle I felt His presence by my side. You see, although my earthly father is no longer with me on this earth, my Heavenly Father never leaves my side and he sings over me. 

Here is the song that I walked down the aisle to:

I have heard so many songs|Listened to a thousand tongues|But there is one|That sounds above them all|
The Father’s song|The Father’s love|You sung it over me and for eternity|It’s written on my heart........

Still taking lessons from the King,


  1. Moments like these is where your healing keeps healing. You are amazing.
    *tears* xx

  2. Jo, that is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing from your heart. Healing is a journey. Love what Michelle wrote. xx

  3. Really really loved reading this tonight. It touched my heart and made me think about how my heart is still healing and I need to let it. Love Love Love your Beautiful Heart♥♥♥

  4. DEar Jo,
    even at the thought of replying to this my eyes too are filled with tears....
    I have also lost my Dad (9 years ago this Oct) and all that you said is true! I too lost my way with my faith for a long time, blaming God for taking Dad away, I too prayed that he would be healed and even till the last moment we were sure that he would just get straight back out of the coffin!!! I hate the fact that my children don't know him, that i can't got to him for advice and that at moments when I need him to say how much he loves me and how proud he is of me..... well Dad isn't there to do it! HE was only 53 and it still hurts at times when I hear his favourtie hymn or eat his favourite lollie etc etc!
    Healing is a journey and one day we will be able to celebrate seeing our loved ones again!
    Thanks for sharing! huge hugs to you!
    SMIles SHArnee :)

  5. Hi Jo,
    What a beautiful and heart touching post!! Healing is indeed a journey. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  6. Beautiful post Jo, I love that your son is practicing a song to sing to your dad in heaven. My mum lost her father when she was 15 so I never got to meet my grandfather either, my mum assures me he would've loved all his gradnkids to bits and would've been mighty proud that so many of us have red hair!! I'm glad God has started to heal your heart and walk you on that journey. And completely unrelated I love your funky new blog background :-)

  7. Thanks for sharing this Jo. It's a powerful testimony to how God does care so much for us. He knows the anger and pain that is involved with grief too. I am often brought to my knees when I think of how He must have felt seeing Jesus on the cross. Oh how He loves us.

  8. A truly beautiful, honest and heart-felt post Jo... thank you so much for sharing, you write so lovely, any Daddy would be proud, but especially yours! Keep up the incredible work, you are reaching lives for The Kingdom xxx

  9. What a poignant post, Jo! Thank you for sharing your heart and your memories of your dad. I pray that God continues to comfort you as you travel through this life until one day, you will be smiling with joy as you hear your son singing "Don't Worry - Be Happy" with your dad before our Heavenly Father.

    Blessings, Joan

  10. I waited several days before reading this, wanting to make sure I read it while all was quiet and I could really take it in. I am glad I waited. It was so touching. Most adorable is your son singing your dad's song practicing so he can sing it to him in heaven. What a joy that you've really planted seeds in his heart of knowing his grandpa. That's what I try to do with my mom, who my son will never "know", but I teach him about her all the time.
    The Father's Song is just an incredibly moving song. How lovely that you chose it for walking down the aisle.

  11. So glad to have found you through The Beauty in His Grip & I look forward to following you. I invite you to do the same, as I would welcome your insight on any posts that inspire you.

    Your father has such a warm, welcoming smile in this picture. What a gentle spirit looking over you & your family!

    I can SO relate to this post for many, many reasons! I lost my mother 9 years ago to cancer. And my marriage was disintegrating at the same time, while I had 1 & 4 year olds. It was hands down one of the worst times I've had in this life. Of course, looking back....I realize that I was just being born then. It took my mother's death to wake me up to what I was throwing away in this life, what I gave up of myself in my marriage, the direction my life was heading & it was the impetus to lead me to Christ wholeheartedly. You can read about her here:

    And running? I know that too. I LIVED fight or flight daily, but could never run b/c of my obligation & love for my children. I buried instead. And sank into despair. I hope you will read about it here:

    Smells....ah, yes, smells! There are still boxes I have of Mom's things. I open them & instantly can smell her house. Tears spill down my face immediately. I miss her so much sometimes. I always say that "time heals all wounds" is only partially true. Yes, they heal in the sense that it's not a gaping open, gushing wound. But, you bump it just right & it hurts like the dickens and brings tears...and the inevitable ache that accompanies that.

    And I, too, felt the "new normal" of life, yet wanted to scream at everyone, 'how can you just (sit there, shop, talk, drive....chose whatever someone else was doing)? Don't you know my mother's dead? How can you carry on like nothing's changed. Then logic kicks in & you say to yourself, "well, of course, they don't know, you idiot! How would they?" Life as I knew it was OVER! What a truly miserable, gut-wrenching experience it is. But, it is a road we all must travel. And having traveled it, we have something to offer others who will go through it. We can offer some light on that dark path, helping them simply put one foot in front of the other.

    But God has shown me His grace in all of this. Would I rather have Mom here? Of course! But, I can see now that this is the course life had to follow for God's plans to come to fruition & for me to be able to empathize with many...and to reach as many as I can for Him.

    Hugs & love ~ Merana


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my lessons!

I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Jo Princess Warrior xo