DWITS #6 – Chapter 3, Our Neighborhood Helps Us Grieve

My two oldest daughters, now both grown with lives of their own, were just 2- and 4-years-old when their baby sister Abby died so unexpectedly. Our neighborhood friends’ children helped them continue on in their childhoods to endure the tragedy. Meanwhile, the neighborhood parents helped my husband and I carry on with the mundane of life as we could barely focus on what had to be accomplished each day.

Community is important in all aspects of our life, none so more than when we are grieving a death. This mid-chapter excerpt from my latest book, Death, Where is Thy Sting: Recovery from the Loss of Our Loved Ones and Preparation for Our Own Final Days, explains how we were helped during such a difficult time.

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At the time of Abby’s death, we lived in a close-knit, middle-class neighborhood on the east side of Denver. Families and seniors lived side-by-side in brick bungalows under large elm trees. It was a time and place when families took long walks together after dinner, stopping to visit with others along the way. Life-long friendships grew strong as children played together while adults fellowshipped.

Stunned at the news of Abby’s sudden death, our community rose to the occasion to help us cope. For months they did our laundry, cleaned our house, dropped off groceries, brought us home-cooked meals, and encouraged us to get out for some fun when we were ready. They compassionately asked just enough caring questions that we could begin to discuss Abby’s life and death for us to begin processing our grief. All the while, they allowed us the time we needed to hunker down in our home to heal.

I will never forget the love they showered on us. I do not know if we ever properly returned their kindness, but it was life-saving and life-giving. Two decades later, thanks to social media and email, we are still connected to many of these amazing, trusted families.

Only God knew the plans He had for us when 20 years previously to Abby’s death, I had purchased that cozy cottage-like home as a single, career-oriented young woman. As my husband joined me, then six children, He was providentially orchestrating a support-net plan for our future grief. His ways are not ours, and His plans are likely never anything we could suppose. As I look back, it was a sweet season of our lives being lavishly loved by compassionate friends whom we could never repay. So, we continue to pay-it-forward to others who have come into our lives as the years have unfolded.

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:9-10).

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