Coping with the Death of a Parent
A family man grieving the death of his mother reflects on his decisions about her care, and asks whether he should have feelings of regret as he copes.Show/Hide Transcript
Coping With the Death Of A Parent
Brother Donald Pinnock: Coping with the death of a parent is one of the toughest ordeals that a person can go through no matter the age. It’s a time in one’s life that we cannot really properly prepare for, nor even get over or get past. Today, I’m talking to Michael, a young father who’s joining us all the way from Jacksonville, Florida. He wants to know how to deal with the death of a parent and how to cope with the grief and doubts that may come with this loss. Join us in our conversation and let’s look for the solution together.
Brother Donald Pinnock: Hello, Brother Michael, and welcome to the program. Even though it’s just virtual, we’re so very, very glad and appreciative that you are on our program today. So, for the sake of the viewers, who is Michael Robinson? Tell us about yourself.
Michael Robinson: Thank you so much for having me on this virtual show today. I currently live in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s one of the sunniest, best places to live. And I have a wife and I’m also a father to two young and very beautiful little girls. And I am currently holding a duty or office within the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Church of Christ through CEBSI for INC Media Services and I am a media producer.
Brother Donald Pinnock: Brother Michael, what brings you to the program today? Why are you here?
Michael: It was recent that I lost my mother who I was very, very close to. She was the only parent that I had in my life and also—there were decisions I really had to make regarding her health. She experienced grave illness even to the point that she couldn’t even take care of herself anymore. And it came upon me because I’m an only child.
Brother Donald: When is it that you started to look after your mother? At what stage of your life was it that you virtually had to take her in to take care of her?
Michael: In 2016—it was after I got married. We moved to Florida because I’m originally from New Jersey. I was born and raised in Edison, but because of the hectic winters it was very painful for my mother’s body and we had family here in Fort Myers, so we thought it was just right—for us to move to Florida to be closer to family and it would be of more help to my mother’s health. Once we were here in Florida, unfortunately, she got more sick as time was going by.
Brother Donald Pinnock: Because considering that you’re a husband, you’re also a father, didn’t you find it very, very straining, very demanding?
Michael: It was a very straining experience and time of my life. It affected me physically to the point that, even though I didn’t think I was having panic attacks or anxiety attacks, my body was doing it to myself. And I had to really try and pay more attention to my health, and it was a strain on my wife to be honest. Because she was diagnosed with spinal stenosis after our second child.
Brother Donald Pinnock: When it comes to the extra effort that you put out for your mom, it’s so very, very commendable. Can you describe the kind of relationship you had with her?
Michael: I truly reflect now that I have young children. The extent that I go for them. When they’re sick or when they’re in need. And that’s what my mother did for me. And the way I feel towards my kids is because that was the experience I had with my mother. My mother was a single mom. I knew my father for maybe about 6-7 years of my life, and then he was out of the picture and it was just her and I. And I often asked her, “Mom, why didn’t you look for another companion, someone to be with?” And she told me at an older age, she said, “You know what, after your father left, I just decided that you were going to be the center of my life.” And she just always put my needs first.
Brother Donald Pinnock: Yes, I was going to say, your mother, she loved you very much, Michael. So, correct me if I’m wrong, Michael, but there came a point when you had a discussion with the doctors and they explained her predicament. And then you had to make that decision. What was the decision between—what were the choices that were offered to you?
Michael: My mother had multiple brain seizures within a month’s time. She’s been dealing with kidney failure for over a year. Well, there was a very tough decision, Brother Donald, because what I was currently facing is one—I had to decide whether my mother would be going to hospice and an actual center, where I couldn’t visit her because of what’s happening with COVID. And the other situation was that she would go to hospice home with me. And I would be provided everything that’s needed, but she wouldn’t have any care in dialysis because it’s not provided. And at this point I had to make this decision whether—and I felt for me—I was wondering, am I deciding how long or how much more is she going to live? Am I deciding if she’s going to die? I had to make a decision for her to go to hospice, but it was at home. When she came home, I sent my family away. So, I sent my family to Orlando. And she came home and I made this commitment again. Of all the time she’s gone to the hospital and back, I had to keep saying to myself, take care of your mother. You’re the only one that can do what is needed for her because she’s your mother. And it was just three days from there, Brother Donald, that she passed. And I was next to her. And while she was taking her last breaths, I was telling her that I love her. Not to worry about us and I will see her again because she’s finishing her race as we speak. After that happened, I started asking those questions to myself. Did I make the right decision? And how do I get peace about knowing that even though I may feel that I decided to come home, and she passed so quickly—did I do the right thing?
Brother Donald Pinnock: Brother Michael, before we answer those questions in light of the Bible’s teachings, we all know that dealing with the loss of a loved one, especially a parent, is one of the most painful experiences that one can go through in life. I, myself, had to go through that same experience. When it comes to the decision that you made—would it have made a difference when it came to the longevity of the life of your mother? Let’s answer that question first by reading here in Hebrews the chapter is 9 and the verses 27:
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment
[Hebrews 9:27 New King James Version]
Brother Donald Pinnock: So, please notice, the Bible teaches that man is appointed to die. And who has appointed the time of man’s death? Of course, none other than the Almighty God. So, what all people have to accept is that when it comes to the longevity of a person’s life, it really is in the hands of the creator. That’s why we can read the following here in Job 12 and the verses are 9 to 10:
Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
[Job 12:9-10 New King James Version]
Brother Donald Pinnock: So, as we understand when it comes to the breath of all mankind, or meaning to say the length of one’s days that is in the realm of the hands of God. We have fantastic doctors and in ways they can help when it comes to extending the life of an individual. But no matter who that individual is, the time will come that they will die. You were a loving, caring son who was prepared to sacrifice in order to take care of his sick mother until the very day, until the very hour that she was laid to rest. And you fulfilled what the Bible teaches here in Ephesians, the Chapter 6 and the verses are 2 to 3:
“Respect your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise added: “so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land.”
[Ephesians 6:2-3 Good News Translation]
Brother Donald Pinnock: Not only did you respect your mother, Brother Michael, but you also honored her. And you really cared for her, and your expression of love was not just in mere words, but it was the actions too. And for sure, your mother, she appreciated your efforts. And for sure she looked upon you as a loving and a caring son. So, there is no doubt whatsoever when it comes to you being not a failure, but rather a successful son in performing your God-given duties and again when it comes to the love that you had for your mother.
Michael: The part that still lingers is that, why is it that when my mom passed—I’ll be honest with you, that load, that burden, it really fell off my shoulders. And that’s the part that made me feel guilty. I miss my mom very much. But why is it then if I did everything I could, how do I—or what is it that I should focus on so I don’t feel that I failed her. Or not even that, but what should I focus on so that I don’t put this guilt on myself because of my situation in thinking that I was the one that was taking care of her and that that responsibility was mine.
Brother Donald Pinnock: Brother Michael, when he comes to all of those responsibilities, they have come to an end. It’s not because you feel happy that she’s no longer here, but just the truth of the matter is you did not feel the brevity of those responsibilities while your mother was still here. But once she was laid to rest, and all of a sudden you come to that realization that you don’t have those responsibilities anymore. But what is really, really something that you should be grateful for is what all of us members of the Church of Christ are longing for. Because we don’t just live for this world wherein there is so much suffering and there is the pain and also the distress or duress, especially when a person dies. But we live for this, Brother Michael, which I will read from the Book of John. The chapter is 16, and the verses are 20 and 22.
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
[John 16:20,22 New International Version]
Brother Donald Pinnock: Is that not what we’re living for, my beloved brother? That here in this world, yes, we do experience those times of grief and you are going through one now. And in fact you will always have fond memories of your mother and there will be times that you will be remembering some of the events that took place between yourself and your mother and you will shed tears. Just like all others who have lost a family member. Well then, for us, members of the Church Of Christ, yes, we grieve now, but we look forward to an eternal joy. And that joy will be given unto us on the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord our God is not blind to your sacrifices and your efforts. You are a good example of a child who respected and loved their mother. And when it comes to your sacrifices, may they be emulated when it comes to many others who are able to view this program. So, all we can do is wish you the very best, Brother Michael, and pray that you and your family will be able to cope with the grief of this loss, that you will look forward with anticipation. When it comes to the day that the Lord Jesus Christ promised unto us. Thank you for being on our program today.
Michael: And I thank you Brother Donald, for having me. I can’t express it enough. And one thing that has continued to be inspiring strength for me and my family in our loss, are the words of God written in the Bible. And knowing as members of the Church that we really do have something to look forward to. And knowing that even though we lose our loved ones they are blessed, we are blessed to know that we will see them again. And that has given me more inspiration to not even be more active in my faith, but to even share it. Because I want that for other people. I want that for others we’re experiencing the same things.
Brother Donald Pinnock: So, you stay strong Brother Michael. And put a smile on your face. Get rid of the worries or the feelings that perhaps you failed when it came to your mother. You did not fail. You were very successful, and very admirable, when it comes to your efforts. So, God bless, Brother Michael. Stay in touch.
Michael: Thank you.
Brother Donald Pinnock: And we wish you all the very best.
Michael: Thank you so much, Brother Donald, and thank you for this opportunity.
Brother Donald: Thank you, everyone, for joining us in our episode today. I’m Brother Donald Pinnock, and we’ll see you again next time.