(Pictured is my brother Sonny, my sister-in-law, Carol, me & John)
The hope filled season of Advent and Christmas changes the busyness of our often over programmed lives. As we deck the halls with reds and greens, string lights and hum Christmas carols, the spirit of the season is love and togetherness. It is the season of “Emmanuel,” “God with us.”
We celebrate the birth of our Savior by gathering together with family and friends. We are one in the Spirit. But, this season can be a heavy one for those dealing with serious injury, illness, separation, or for those grieving the loss of loved ones. And yet, “rejoicing in the Lord happens while we still struggle in the now.” Ann Voskamp
Last month I lost my older brother “Sonny” to pancreatic cancer. Perhaps you have lost an older brother or sister, or maybe a younger brother or sister? What we find is that sibling grief is often overshadowed by the grief of parents, the spouse or children. Siblings are often called the “forgotten mourners.”
As siblings reach adulthood and form families of their own, and perhaps move to distant locations, the bond between them can loosen. But their shared history is forever imprinted on the survivor’s heart. I will always remember our Sunday mornings together after Church at our grandmother’s house, and those early morning calls as Sonny was driving to work and I was getting my children ready for school. But most of all I will remember him for his support when I was growing up and the fact that he was always there for me.
I was able to find peace and comfort in his passing because I knew that Sonny was suffering greatly and was at rest, but most importantly because I knew that he put his faith and trust in the Lord. [We do] not grieve as others do who have no hope…we believe that Jesus died and rose again and, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thes 4:13-14
As we put the finishing touches on our preparation for the coming of our Savior, we remember those who are struggling. Those who are lonely and missing loved ones whether by distance, estrangement or death and those who are battling issues related to injury or illness. Reach out and share the joy of Jesus’ coming with those who need the gift of Him the most. And, as we remember those who have lost loved ones, let us not forget the “siblings.” Today in the midst of sad, remember the glad, and give thanks for the good. Today, rejoice in the Lord, for our present troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Cor 4:17)