My grandmother died last week, while I was in Africa. It was incredibly difficult to not be able to be there to say goodbye or even to attend the funeral. I wrote this letter to be read at her funeral:
While fully confident that God’s timing is perfect and that His providence never fails, I cannot begin to understand why He chose to take Granny home at a time when neither Rebekah nor I could be there to say goodbye. Over the past few weeks I cringed every time I received another email from Missy, fearing that it would confirm Granny’s death, forever settling that I would never see her again. I cried out to God to preserve her life. I longed for that time in March when I would be able to return and see her again. Were it not for my being stuck in the heart of East Africa, I would have been there for her and would be sharing in the grief of friends and family at the funeral today.
Although I will never see her again in this life, I know that I will see her again in the life to come. In our special times together, Granny shared with me about her genuine faith in Jesus Christ. She trusted in Jesus, believing that His death had paid the full price for the penalty of sin. Now this same Jesus has freed Granny from the presence of sin for she lives in a place that He prepared for her in heaven. Living eternally in the presence of her precious Savior, she will never again taste the pain caused by the sin of our fallen world. She has received a new body with perfect health that can never fade. Every hurt and pain that she has ever experienced has been healed by Him who gave His life for her.
While it is comforting to know that death can only mean gain for Granny, we who remain behind in this life will grieve our loss. She truly loved us and we all felt it. I’ve lived far away for so long but in those special visits that we had together, she expressed her heart for us as her grandchildren so vividly. I thank God for the gift of her life. I have long considered myself blessed to have a grandparent alive on both my mother and father’s side of the family. Now Granny is gone, leaving a void that can never again be filled.
I’m so grateful for the way that she loved my father and sought to lead him down the right path. Over the years she has shared her memories of my father with me and I will treasure them forever. He died when I was so young but by Granny and his sisters have helped me to learn more about his life by sharing with me how much he meant to them. I trust that their long-awaited reunion in heaven has already been beyond wonderful. Although their graves lay side by side in this world, their souls reside in a much better place. I long for the time that I too will be with them.
I’m weeping as I write this. It seems so impersonal to merely write an email at such a critical time of life. I hope that my family can understand how badly I long to be there today and how much it hurts to be so far away at this time. Please know that I am grieving with each one of you and that I share in your loss.
Thank you for being there for Granny as her life ebbed away. I’m sure that you made her feel loved during her dying days. I do not know why God chose now to take her home but I do know that everything He does is right and that I can trust Him. I thank God for Granny and all that she meant to every single one of us. May she now rejoice as she rests in heaven. I believe she would say to us with the Apostle Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philipians 1:21)