As Americans and many admirers from across the globe joined together to celebrate the life of Barbara Bush Saturday, a beautiful message emerged. An average year in the United States brings grief to eight million people after the loss of an immediate family member.
It is clear this former First Family has very strong convictions regarding life and death, and how to grieve in a healthy way.
No stranger to loss herself, Mrs. Bush experienced deep grief throughout her life. She lost her mother in a tragic car accident. Three months later, she gave birth to her daughter, Robin, who died from leukemia just shy of her fourth birthday. I believe that the loss of her little girl turned Barbara’s eyes Heavenward with a new understanding that she would see her again when her time on earth was complete.
In my own experience with grief after I lost my husband of 39 years, there was a grace that carried me and my family that was inexplicable and beautiful, as we surrendered to the intimacy that Father God was calling us to enter. We experienced what it means to have peace that passes understanding.
I believe the Bush family is having a similar experience. The former First Lady created an indisputable atmosphere of love and support for her family. She has been quoted throughout the years, sharing sage wisdom and realistic applications for getting through this life. “The future of this nation does not depend on what happens at the White House, but what happens at your house,” is one such piece.
She also said, “You have to love your children unselfishly. That’s hard. But it’s the only way.” Her sincere dedication to be the best matriarch she could be was evident in the words that were spoken at her funeral. Former President George H.W. Bush lamented, “I always knew Barbara was the most beloved woman in the world, and in fact I use to tease her that I had a complex about that fact. But the truth is the outpouring of love and friendship being directed at The Enforcer is lifting us all up. We have faith she is in Heaven and we know life will go on — as she would have it.”
For those of you who are grieving, it is altogether fitting and noble to allow the waves of sorrow you are feeling to give way to your tears of grief, for there is a time to mourn, and this is that time. This is the beginning of a healthy grieving process. At the beginning of our grief journey following the loss of our family’s patriarch, we counted the hours from his departure, then it was days, then weeks, then months. The good news is that, it is something I no longer do, because the Father has lifted me above the anguish of the loss.
Time will be your friend and your adversary in the unfolding days that lie before you. Grief is not something you get over, but it is something you get through. Barbara Bush displayed this beautifully, because she lived her life looking toward Heaven, anticipating a reunion with those she loved. She never wasted time wondering if she would see them again. She moved through her life with the absolute conviction that she most assuredly would be gathered to her Maker and to those He had given to her to love, even if their time on this side of eternity was shorter than one would have hoped. May we all follow this example of hope and expectancy.