Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thinking Of JoAnne ... (and the Deep Grief article sent to her by her friend)

* The Evangelistas: Shaun, JoAnne, Chase and Claire, with Joey, and Joe & Karen.

The other night I was at Jaime's house with a bunch of "girls" (ok, ladies) who were there to be with Jaime. It was a ladies night, a time of fun and laughter. It was formed to help ease the pain Jaime is experiencing in the loss of her brother who she's very closed with.

Then I thought of JoAnne and wondered how she's doing. The next morning, I got an e-mail from Karen. JoAnne forwarded to her and Jaime a post by Lysa Turkeust (from Proverbs 31 Woman ministry) sent to her by her caring friend Lyz. It was in incredible post. A moving post. It was written from the heart of someone who knows exactly what JoAnne and Jaime are going through. I thought isn't that wonderful. Just as the Maui ohana are ministering to the Johnsons here, JoAnne's Virginia friends are ministering to her as well. That was good to know.

And so I contacted Lysa (via her blog) to ask permission to re-post that scribbling here. And immediately I got a response back saying "yes, go ahead, you can re-post it". So so here it is:

by Lysa Terkeust

Sometimes when we lose things it causes a temporary panic that rises and falls in a mini-tidal wave fashion. Like earlier this year when I lost my camera with all our ski pictures on it. The panic escalated, crested with some hand wringing and mind racing, and then slowly ebbed away.

But sometimes a loss cuts into your heart so viciously that it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It's what I call deep grief.

The kind that strains against everything you've ever believed. So much so you wonder how the promises that seemed so real on those thin Bible pages yesterday, could possibly ever stand up under the weight of this enormous sadness today.

I once stood at the side of a casket too small to accept. Pink roses draped everywhere. And I watched my mom as she laid across the casket refusing to let go. How could she let go? Part of her heart laid within, so quiet and so still.

I stood paralyzed and stunned. Just days ago we were laughing and doing everyday things and assuming that all of our lives stretched before us in spans of many, many years. And then suddenly it all stopped.

In the flurry of funeral plans and memorial services we all operated on automatic. People were everywhere. Soft chatter filled in the gaps that our stunned silence could not. And enough food was brought in to feed the whole neighborhood.

But eventually people went back to their own lives. The soft chatter dissipated. The food stopped coming. And we were forced to carry on. Only we had deep grief wrapped about us that made our throats feel strangled and our feet stuck in mud.

I remember I tried to go to McDonalds to order a happy meal. But I couldn't. I sat in the drive-thru with the speaker spouting words at me I couldn't process. She kept asking if she could take my order.

Yeah I had an order. Take away my bloodshot eyes. Take away my desire to hurt the doctors that couldn't save my sister. Take away my anger toward God. And then take away my guilt for being the one that lived. I'll take all that with no onions and extra ketchup please.

I drove away sobbing. How dare they offer happy meals. No one should be happy today. Or tomorrow. Or next year.

This is the reality of deep grief. Even when you love God and believe in His promises. Even when you know without a doubt that you will see your loved one again. Even when you know hope is still there.

It takes time.

It takes wading through an ocean of tears.

It takes finding a possession of your loved one that you thought was lost and realizing God did that just to comfort you. It takes discovering one day that the sun still shines. It takes being caught off guard when you catch yourself smiling only to realize it's okay.

It takes prayer. It takes making the decision to stop asking for answers and start asking for perspective. It takes telling people to please not avoid saying her name- you want to hear it, over and over and over again.

Then one day you take off the blanket of deep grief. You fold it neatly and tuck it away. You no longer hate it or resist it. For underneath it wondrous things have happened. Things that could have only come about when Divine hope intersect with a broken world.

And finally you can see years stretching before you once again. You look up, blow a kiss, wipe a tear and find it's still possible to dance.


lorensaved77 said...

You read my Heart! Perfect description of comforting words...Great Job!
Exactly what we all have been trying to convey to the Johnson's yet fumbling for the elequent way to say it...
love and Many Blessings to you Karen and Joe,
We are here for you...
The Loren Family

Anonymous said...


ulu shiraishi

Anonymous said...

Johnson's...Shiraishi's are in daily prayer for your family. Also praying that over time, our prayers will only increase.


Garnett and Scott said...

How beautifully written. Thanks for sharing and we are always thinking of each of you.
Love, Garnett and Scott

Anonymous said...

My prayers for your entire family will not stop...I may not know all of you, but I will cry for you and your loss in Joey (especially Karen and Joe), I will pray for you, and I will hope for you. Having lost a child myself at the age of fifteen months, I am all too familiar with the questions of WHY and how can I out live my child.

If I have learned any one thing in the time since he has left and gone to heaven (my little "DiMS" David Michael Scoles) it is that one day you do find hope and peace in knowing that I will be reunited with him in Heaven along with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

All I can say is that I am so very sorry for your loss, I know there aren't any words to make the hurt go away. May you all be surrounded by love, prayers, and blessings.


Kelly Bonsell said...

How lovely to know that Jamie and JoAnne's close friends have been there for them. WOW! This piece, “Deep Grief”, amazingly conveys how people feel and what they go through when they lose a loved one. I pray that Christ’s love and truth guide you through this darkness. Knowing Jesus gives you hope, but it doesn’t take the pain away. It's okay to hurt, to be mad, to feel, to cry, to continue to mourn. It's okay; yes it’s okay to keep that “blanket of deep grief” on for a while. Karen and Joe, you two are so used to helping others recover. Now you have a deep loss that you will never fully recover from. I am so, so sorry.

The remembrances you have of Joey will be with you forever. Hopefully we can help you carry on those memories . . . . It is only now that I realize those memories (as well as pictures, stories, Joey’s journal entries and his belongings) will never be “enough”. I now understand why you want people to write on this Blog. This Blog continues to encapture who Joey was. It shares Joey with all of us. It shows everyone how much he was loved . . . and is still loved. It shows us how much love the two of you put into your whole family. But mostly, it helps you (and us) CONTINUE to feel CLOSE to Joey. Thank you Liza for starting it and helping the Johnsons CONTINUE. We also hope to help you CONTINUE the memories of Joey’s life. His short-lived, yet incredible, wonderful LIFE!

I love you guys so, so much,