Homeschooling through a lossThis is not a typical post that you will see about homeschooling. However, I know so many women who are dealing with the loss of loved ones recently that I felt led to write it. My prayer is to give encouragement and some practical advice that will assist you in your grieving process.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” Matthew 5:4
I got the dreaded phone call just days before our family began deputation for Indonesia. We had already packed up our home, said goodbye to my parents, and traveled across the country to our sending church in California. After being gone only a month, my mom called to tell me that doctors had found a tumor on her brain and that they were doing surgery the following morning. I flew back to Florida immediately and arrived twenty minutes before she went in to have surgery. The doctors told us that my mother had six to fourteen months to live. Both our lives changed that day.
Cancer has a funny way of allowing you to grieve in stages. You can’t entirely grieve because the person is still there with you. So you have to learn to live with your grief. Putting life on hold is not an option.
Advice for the MomOne of the most difficult seasons in any family is dealing with the loss of a loved one. The grieving process can totally derail your homeschooling efforts for a period of time. You do not have the option to send your children to capable teachers while you stay in bed and grieve. If you are a homeschool mom, you must grieve in front of and with your children. They become more involved in the process than a child who goes to school would, especially if you are caring for a loved one during their last days. Here are some of the things that helped me and my family to get through this difficult time.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” Matthew 6:34
1. Purpose in your heart to live in the moment.
This practice helped me to get through each day and to experience seasons of joy in the midst of the storm. When I spent time with my mom, we made the most of our day. We did not think about cancer, but rather enjoyed each other’s company and made it our goal to make as many good memories for the kids as possible. We hugged, went on walks, played, and took a trip to Hawaii. Because of much prayer and my mom’s tenacity, she lived eight months longer than the predicted year, and had a high quality of life up until the last weeks. We did not ignore the inevitable or avoid discussing difficult topics when necessary. It was important for her to tell us where she wanted to be buried and that she was ready to go to Heaven. Our focus during this time, however, was on life and not death. Since her passing, I have grieved, but I try not to feel guilty if I have a good day. Time is very healing, too, but you must allow yourself to heal.
“Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:11-12
2. Find others who have walked in your steps so that you do not feel alone.
After the initial shock that my mother had cancer wore off, the Lord brought into my life other women who had lost their moms or loved ones. I needed to know that I would be able to go on and live a full life afterwards. These women ministered to me through their own losses. I still maintain a special bond with them because they helped me to get through that difficult time. If you are facing the loss of someone special, please know that the pain eventually subsides and life does go on. Accept that as a gift from God. It is ok to move on. That is what your loved one would want you to do. (2 Samuel 12:16-23, Genesis 24:67,
“Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
3. Allow people to minister to you.
Going through the death of a loved one should not be an isolated experience. People want to step in and help during this time, and it is important that you allow them to do so. It is not necessary to do everything on your own if you have someone who can do it for you. I was very blessed with a church family and friends who reached out to me continually. The most valuable service that they did for me was to take my children out and entertain them or watch them overnight. Others brought over meals and offered to go grocery shopping. Depending on your circumstances, someone may even be qualified to help you homeschool your kids for a short period of time. Allow people to be a blessing to you, even if it is not in your nature to accept help or you do not feel like being bothered. It will lighten your burden, and it will also allow them to express their grief in a tangible way. Other people are mourning the loss of your loved one too, and this can give them an outlet in which to express it.
“Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.” 2 Samuel 12:20
4. Take care of yourself physically.
Exercising, eating healthy and regular meals, fully dressing each morning, and getting enough sleep are some physical steps that you can take to keep you out of depression and give you the strength to perform your daily tasks. While I was experiencing some of my most difficult grieving, we were visiting churches every week on deputation. It was challenging to be at my best all the time. Then, during my mom’s last two months, I stayed with her and became her nurse. I needed physical and emotional endurance for both situations. I made it my goal to walk or do some kind of physical activity every day. Not only did it help me to stay strong, it also gave my body a physical release from the overwhelming stress. While walking, I was able to cry and pray. I always felt better afterwards. In addition to exercise, I ate a balanced diet and limited my sugar intake. I love sweets, but they can cause unnecessary mood swings, so I avoided them. I put on nice clothes, fixed my hair, and applied makeup every day. It helped me to feel better about myself, and I realized that it also encouraged those around me, including my mom. I also became disciplined with my bedtime. Typically a night owl, I made sure that I went to bed earlier and got 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I took melatonin to help me sleep. Melatonin is an herbal supplement, but I only recommend using it sparingly and for short durations. It helped me to turn off my thoughts and get enough rest during the most challenging times. By taking care of your physical needs, you will be better equipped to face the challenges of losing a loved one while still caring for your children and family.
“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
5. Do not neglect your quiet time with God.
I have saved the most important yet most often neglected thing last. It should go without saying, but sometimes in the midst of grief it is easy to allow Bible reading and prayer time to go by the wayside. This is absolutely the most important aspect to keeping a clear mind and staying encouraged. Keep a prayer journal. Listen to encouraging sermons by your favorite pastor. God is your main source of strength, encouragement, and comfort during the loss of a loved one. Meet with Him every day so that He can administer His healing balm to your wounded heart.
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful processes that we experience in life. Next week, I will share how to help your children grieve and accept that loss. Also, I will share tips of how to keep your school year going while taking time to cry. My kids still miss their nana very much, but they have come through the experience of her passing without becoming fearful and with a greater yearning for Heaven.
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