‘Am I OK?’ today? Well, Life’s Slowed Down.

It is “R U OK? Day” today.

Am I okay? Yes. I think so. I will be.

Am I sad, overwhelmed, exhausted and ‘bleh’ with blood-shot eyes? Yes.

My Opa passed away today. It’s sad and I’m grieving. But I’m okay. The doctor assured us that his death was painless and peaceful.

He had a heart attack on Sunday (ironically, Fathers Day), which revealed he also had pneumonia and kidney failure. Opa could have had a few long, drawn out weeks where his body slowly shut down – but God was merciful. All his grandkids and children were able to see him the day before he passed. Then after only a couple of days in hospital, he fell asleep early this morning and never woke up. It wasn’t a sudden-shock, but was quick. In his words, yes, ‘he kicked the bucket’ (and one day we all will), but it was painless, peaceful, he knew he was loved and even got to have a beer on his last night. This is just the surface of how things seemed to ‘worked out for the best’ and I have witnessed and experienced God’s goodness, mercy and grace in a whole new way.

As a teenager, I watched a close family friend pass away and had a church brother pass away after a motorbike accident – but this is the first time I’ve experienced the death of a family member and it’s surreal. It has shocked me that as his world stopped, mine (and my family’s) slowed down while the world continues on, as it was yesterday and as it will tomorrow.

As my family I sat down with a cuppa (just after we said our final good-bye) and we were mincing our words – a fly on the wall would think we were talking jibberish. We kept dropping things and walking down the hallway, forgetting that we just needed to use the bathroom. Then mum and I finished our evening with a quick trip to coles to pick up some (much needed) cheese and milk. We came home with $30 worth of groceries, some cider, 2 parcels from the pharmacy, no cheese and the wrong kind of milk. Grief distracts you, tires you and takes up so much of your brain. Time feels like it’s gone so quickly and dragged on at the same time.

Mr Google told me that approximately 151,600 people have their world just ‘stop’ every day. If you estimate each individual has 4 people who love them, 606, 400 people have their lives slow down every single day – and grief can be overwhelming for days, weeks and months. At least 4.24 million people a week have their lives slow down because (approx.) 1 million lives stop. That’s a lot of grieving people, walking through the day, a little bit slower than the rest of the world, very distracted with a blend of apathy and sorrow.

And death isn’t the only cause of grief – people lose jobs, pets, marriages, their health and loved ones in other ways, every day. People can have their lives turn over and slowed down due to ill health, mental illness, medications, infertility, waiting for test results or simply receiving some bad, life changing news.

You never know what someone is feeling, experiencing, processing and suffering with as you encounter them. You don’t know what is going on for the ‘rude person’ who hardly notices knocking you off your feet in the street, for the friend who didn’t reply to your text, for the shop attendant who gives you the wrong change, or the driver who cuts you off on the highway.

Can I encourage you to show compassion, empathy and understanding to those you encounter? Give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe, their world has just slowed down. You just don’t know and the only way you will is if you ask.

So, you know how I am going today. What about you? R U OK?

I’m grateful for YOU

So often I try to justify my discontentment, especially since my life since November last year has been horrible, probably the worst 8 months ever. I reached 3 and ½ years in chronic pain and reached my highest weight ever. I felt like I’d lost everything important to me. I’ve been unemployed, left some and I failed at study as I moved back home, mooching of my family and held the stereotype that has. I’m sad I’ve left my good friends behind in Sydney, I’ve been rejected and felt isolated. Reuniting with family in February and old friends has been the only constellation.

Nearly halfway through the year, I can now see that constellation was not a constellation at all. How ungrateful I’d been. I’ve realised the reality is that I am loved. But it’s real, true (and almost unconditional) love. My friends and family have continued to love me and persevere with me despite the inconvenience and trouble I can be. I realised I have more close friends than I can count. So many wonderful ladies who have been continually supportive, empathetic and non-judgemental. They’ve listened to me and given me wise advice. I’ve laughed and laughed and cried and then laughed some more. I’ve been able to have Skype dates, Facebook chats, coffee dates, dinner dates, chocolate feasts, movie marathons and phone conversations. Really. How blessed am I. When I’ve been in my darkest moments God has continued to provide light in the form of family and friends.

And how could I forget unconditional love from my wonderful creator and king? His never ending grace and kindness has never faulted.

I AM grateful. I MUST be grateful. Because in all the darkness, God has given me light. This light is not at the end of the tunnel, but throughout as my frends and family help me hold onto hope and grow as I eagerly await the New Creation. No more sickness, no more sadness, no more sin.