God of All Comfort
Last February, my grandma suffered a stroke that caused her to lose her short-term memory. She struggled to recall her whereabouts and details of what she had done throughout the day. My grandma lived with my parents off and on over the last year, switching from my aunt to my mom’s house to enjoy company with both families.
A few months after her stroke, I got married to Josh, and it was an honor to have her there to celebrate. I will treasure the photos and memories from that special day as she was my last living grandparent. I was so proud to introduce her to beloved friends and members of Josh’s family for the first time. My bridal party kept commenting on my grandma’s sweet disposition.
In the months to follow the wedding, I had some special time with my grandma. For the first time ever, she was only a fifteen minute drive away because she spent weeks living in Kansas City. Growing up, it was a 7.5 hour drive to Graettinger, Iowa, so time with my grandparents had to be planned three or four day trips.
I treasured being able to see her more frequently. We played cards and Yahtzee. We laughed over coffee and dessert. Her short-term memory failure was a sweet reminder to embrace the present and enjoy the company for the moment.
My grandma’s memory continued to decline until she grew more confused and scared. One day in March, a little over a year after her stroke, she fell coming out of church and suffered a brain bleed. It was heartbreaking to hear how she suffered.
Just two weeks later, on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 she passed.
My mom called me to tell me the news.
When I heard, I instantly felt a wave of relief. I will definitely miss my grandma, but I know she is now free from pain. She’s with the God of all comfort who provided her with His ultimate peace.
My grandma mentioned to my mom multiple times leading up to her death that she was ready to go to Heaven. She longed to see Jesus.
In fact, when she lived with my parents, she frequently found comfort in a picture of Jesus my mom keeps framed near the dining table.
Her memory may have lapsed during the year after her stroke, but her childlike faith was unwavering. She trusted wholeheartedly in the power of Jesus.
Even in her most confused moments, she knew Who to trust.
On multiple mornings – while sitting drinking coffee near the picture of Jesus – my grandma would confidently tell my mom what she had prayed before going to bed the previous night.
"I told him last night that I was ready. I keep telling him."
It's beautiful actually. It's beautiful to think about how my grandma set an example of resolute faith in the One who controlled when she would pass.
Even the lyrics of hymns came back to her despite her memory loss. She would ask to hear hymns because they reminded her of God’s unconditional love and grace. Hymns brought her joy and peace.
God is here to help. He’s here to provide comfort in even the most troubling times of pain or heartbreak. He’s here to support and sustain us, and when it’s time, He’s here to call us home.
I’m thankful that my grandma experienced a bit of peace despite her overwhelming pain in her final days.
Death has a way of reminding us what’s important. It points us back to Christ because in death, we remember He has already conquered it.
My sweet grandma passed in the days leading up to Easter. It may have taken me several months to put together the words, but I know the time of her death was no accident.
I’m thinking more and more of the cross – of the eternal hope we have, of the overwhelming love of Jesus dying on our behalf, of the power of the resurrection to defeat all of our sins.
We don’t have to fear death as believers because we know the best is yet to come. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He even conquered death on our behalf.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
I’m not sure I can accurately put into words how much the Gospel can comfort our grief. When we know Jesus has already conquered our very worst fears – even death – we have nothing left that has the power to cause us to fear.
Even in the days of suffering, God is able to comfort us. It’s not just a “feel better soon” card. It’s true, deep comfort. He can honestly tell us, “I sent my Son and He already conquered everything you’re going through. He can help you. He gets it.”
Nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ – not even death. I’m thankful that in the moments before my grandma died, she could feel the palpable, overwhelming, never-ending love of Christ.