I don’t even know how to introduce our next contributor to the What’s It Like series. Amanda Jass and I met a handful of years ago and God sure knew what He was doing when He connected us. Amanda and I had the opportunity to co-write In the Wait together, and also, celebrate the birth of 4 babies between the two of us.
She’s the real deal – as sweet and genuine as can be, and absolutely filled with a faith that encourages you to dive deeper as well. Amanda, thank you for sharing this personal and painful experience with us today. I know your dad would be so proud of you and your family.
Here’s what its like to lose a parent. Grab a tissue and prepare to be moved by her words.
I still vividly remember the day we heard the news about my dad. My mom called while I was sitting at my first grown-up job, and through tears, she said those three awful words: “Dad has cancer.” I felt like my heart dropped into my stomach. My football-watching, cheesy-joke-telling, ridiculously smart, and straight-up amazing dad. It didn’t make sense.
A few days after the initial news, my mom, sister, and I were sitting in my dad’s hospital room with him when the doctor came in to give an update. The cancer had already spread. We learned that aside from a miracle, there was no chance of remission.
We were blessed to have over two more years together as a family after his diagnosis. Then in September 2012, my dad went to his eternal home to be with Jesus. Even though we had time with my dad before he passed away, I still felt very numb and was almost in shock those first few weeks. I certainly had some hard moments, but it wasn’t until a couple of months after he was gone that I entered into a more intense season of grieving.
People kept saying how well I seemed to be doing, but they didn’t see all the tears and brokenness behind closed doors. It’s strange when you lose someone you love so dearly. It’s like the whole world just kind of stops. Like you’re in some type of alternate reality. Yet when you look around, people are continuing their day-to-day hustle as if nothing ever happened. They’re not doing it to be cruel though. They simply don’t know.
Everyone’s experience losing a parent is going to be different. Just like every human is unique, every relationship and situation will have its own nuances too. Was it a close, loving relationship or just the opposite? Was the death sudden or somewhat expected? Did they live out what we consider a full and happy life or were they gone far too early?
My dad and I were very close. We talked about almost anything, sometimes for hours on end. He was an incredible man who modeled Jesus to me and to others. I’m thankful to have had such a great relationship with a loving father for as long as I did because I realize that’s certainly not a given. In some ways, this made things easier because I didn’t have a lot of regrets regarding our relationship. In other ways, it made losing him that much harder because there was such a huge hole after he was gone.
Something that I don’t know if I’ve ever really talked about before was an event that happened the evening after my dad left this earth. My husband, sister, and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. There were some kids riding their bikes, and as we got closer we witnessed one kiddo take a pretty brutal wipe out. We rushed over to help. Although he seemed alright other than a few nasty scrapes and being a little distraught from the spill, we made sure he got home safely. For a brief moment, I was able to get outside of my own mind which was already replaying the events of the day. It’s strange, but in a way, it was like God was saying that there is hope—even purpose—in the pain.
It’s been over five years since my dad’s been gone, and I still have moments when the grief suddenly hits so hard. Like when I think about how my daughters will never get to meet their Grandpa Mike here on earth. Or when I have a tricky theology question I want to discuss. Or when something in our house breaks and I remember how much my dad loved to help his family any way he could. I still miss him so very much, but thanks to God’s grace, things have gotten a lot better.
I’ve seen how God is able to work through our heartache and bring healing when and where we need it the most. We live in a broken world, and although God doesn’t want us to hurt, He can take our brokenness and use it for good if we let Him in. This is what my dad chose to do basically all of his life. He was sad to leave his family here on earth, but he had so much hope because of God’s promise of eternity in heaven for those who believe.
Each one of us can have the same kind of confident assurance my dad had if we choose to put our faith in Jesus. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, I am confident that I will be reunited with my dad again someday. I believe that God created humans with a hope for eternity because that is one of many things that can lead us to Him.
Out of everything I love about my dad, I am the most thankful for all the times he pointed me toward our Creator. Our loving, heavenly Father who offers us hope that extends far beyond the grave. A hope that is infinitely greater than anything we could ever ask for or imagine.
“God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine.” Ephesians 3:20
Amanda is from Minnesota and lives in a suburb of Minneapolis with her husband, Brian, and their two sweet daughters. Quality family time, listening to a good podcast, and sipping coffee with friends are a few of her favorite activities. She has a background working in higher education and ministry, and she enjoys her primary role of supporting her family in the home.
PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called ‘In the Wait’!
PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse, Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriage, suffer with endometriosis. experience depression, start a company, and have a micro preemie. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!