With a Heavy Heart I Celebrate

On October 14, 2015, my Great-Grandmother went to be with the Lord.

Ina J. Whitley was ninety when she passed away. She was born on June 21, 1925. In death, she was reunited with her husband, Ott, whom she married in 1945. Ina left behind a legacy of family members who loved and adored her: two children, seven grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren. Her life was celebrated on Monday, October 19, 2015, by all of her family and friends. I have been blessed by twenty-five years with a woman so full of love and faith. Great-Grandma’s legacy reaches beyond the realm of memories to eternity with God. It is because of her that so many people have come to know God on a deeper level or to know Him for the first time. I am forever thankful for the miracles that God performed in the life of Great-Grandma and the extended life he allowed her to lead. Most people don’t get that chance to really say good-bye the way our family had with Great-Grandma. (For more on my miracle reference you can read last week’s post, Five Minute Friday: Family Miracle)

Grief is a strange thing. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. We all react differently to the circumstances which warrant grief. Oftentimes there is a subconscious awareness of being left behind. But as I’ve been dealing with the ever-present heaviness of heart I’m continually reminded of the good things that happened in those last weeks. I celebrate those final days and the privilege of having my Great-Grandmother’s influence for so long.

Memories are what bring those of us stricken with grief through the rough days. The chaplain at Great-Grandma’s service reminded our family that as we experience a longing to be reunited with one we love we can cling to the memories. Death cannot steal our memories. A part of myself may be gone with Great-Grandma, however the memories I have of my twenty-five years with her will fill that void.

As I move forward in life I am reminded of the Twenty-Third Psalm. It’s one that has comforted me many times before in my life, and it was a fitting passage to be read at the funeral this week:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:

for Thou art with me;

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

Thou anointest my head with oil:

My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Amen.

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