4 min read

The light will come through: Thoughts on grief and Christmas

The week just before Christmas, we left to visit my family. The drive north was quite possibly the most beautiful it has ever been – all the trees covered in a heavy blanket of snow, like a scene from Narnia.

We planned to visit with my Grandma Donna, who had been in rehab for some weeks. On the way into town, we stopped by the rehab facility, surprising her with hugs and the joy that the little boys bring. We visited for a bit, and then left that night with a plan to bring her back to my parents' house for a visit and to celebrate an early Christmas together.

That next day, she wasn't doing very well, so we went to her again, and listened to worship music, namely, Is He Worthy? by Andrew Peterson. We held her hand, and I showed her the latest photos of the boys I had printed out and added to the pages in her album. She gave Cooper and Finn and I kisses, and she said, "I love you so much," before we left that day.

And the next morning, we heard that she was in her new and forever Heavenly home.

I don't think I have the words to convey how moving and hard and special to have seen and hugged and kissed my sweet Grandma Donna one last time on this earth.

She made certain to tell me on each visit or phone call that she prayed for me every day. She kept a log of the daily temperatures of her hometown (Duluth, MN), my parents' home, and my new hometown, just for fun.

She sent cards for everything– certainly birthdays and major holidays, but also minor holidays and "just because" notes.

I remember her sharing about the classes she took at UMD with the University for Seniors, and her days in the Red Hat Society.

I knew that there was always a stash of chocolates in her kitchen in a little tin. She always had juice in the sweetest little glasses and breakfasts at her house felt special.

I was fascinated by her neighborhood in Duluth, the sweet square yards, and steep roads, The Pickwick and The Duluth Rose Garden and the Lake Walk down the hill.

She always made it abundantly clear how much she cherished her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and how precious we were to her.

Last summer, she shared with me that Romans 8:28 was her favorite verse: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

In the midst of grieving and the news settling in, we did exchange gifts, knowing that so many things were especially precious because my grandma picked them out. The slippers I knit for my Grandma will now be for my mom, and the little tomtens, train sets, and stuffed animals for the boys are even more cherished.

Amongst making simple meals, minding the boys, and sharing hugs and tears, the lyrics of Is He Worthy? became a sort of theme for the visit.

Do you feel the world is broken? (We do)
Do you feel the shadows deepen? (We do)
But do you know that all the dark won't stop the light from getting through? (We do)
Do you wish that you could see it all made new? (We do) [...]
Does the Father truly love us? (He does)
Does the Spirit move among us? (He does)
And does Jesus, our Messiah, hold forever those He loves? (He does)
Does our God intend to dwell again with us? (He does)

My family and I are grieving, but we are comforted by the wonderful life she led here and the sweet homecoming she's already received in heaven. What joy! Until we meet again in heaven, I love you, Grandma Donna.


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