A Family Helps
In life most of us will go through some very difficult times as the world seems to present us with many different challenges we must overcome again and again. We might believe we have no control over them and they may give the impression at times to keep happening and happening just to us…or so it might seem. One of toughest challenges many of us face is the death of a parent.
A death of a parent is a tough event to get through I’m sure most of us would agree, whether expected or unexpected, right? This event just happened to me and my family several weeks ago and I can tell you that it can be very trying emotionally; even for someone that has always been emotionally strong. It’s been said that you really never miss something until it is gone, and yes that is true in the case of people as well. When someone you love dies slowly over a period of time and you see them gradually change into something that really is almost unrecognizable from what they used to be or how they used to be. When you can see the constant pain they are in daily, the discomfort and the uncertainty in their face about what is happening to them every time you visit or see them, it can be very difficult for anyone. When you see them go through something like this, the inevitable end might be viewed as more of a blessing; after all, part of life is death, isn’t it?
I come from a family of eight; my dad & mom, one sister, four brothers and myself. Because my siblings and I were all within about eight years apart in age, we grew up very close. We shared almost everything as well as experiences. We were not by many using today’s measurements a family of means or even a middle class family, but our parents were good providers and we always had more than enough. We understood the value of work and we were very happy and content with what we had. We grew up on a farm in Southwestern Minnesota and at one time or another, had almost every animal you can think of that for a Minnesota farm. We raised every type of fruit, vegetable or flower this part of the country allowed us to raise…and we loved it (except for picking pickles – seven acres of pickles that is). Most of us kids played many of the sports you would expect us to play growing up and our parents supported those efforts. We had a healthy competitive nature amongst ourselves. Even though we were allowed to play seasonal sports that did not excuse us from the many daily chores we all were required to do; animals needed to be fed, gardens needed to be tended and work needed to get done. We always kept pretty busy. Because of this work and our playtime together and as well as our tight ages we grew up as a very close family and a family is what helps get you through the tough life events that happen from time-to-time. When one of us is feeling really down, the others can really help out by simply being there and by them being there they must at some level absorb some of the depressed negative energy you feel and it gets dispersed and becomes much less and you fell better…I like that way of thinking. I like it when a family can come together and help each other. I believe that is the way God intended it to work.
The relationships you have with each in a family are very unique. To start with, other than adoption, you really cannot pick your family. What I mean is that your mom and dad combined their genes and that created you, you had nothing to do with it; they did the same for your brothers and sisters if you have siblings. All of your siblings come from your bloodline, and come from your parents. That makes your relationship unique right from the start. Now, typically, you all grow up together, spending a lot of time together at an early age; whether you feel you want to or not. That again makes your family relationship unique to your family. Next your immediate family may go through some very specific challenges while you are spending all that time together growing up, which is a very impressionable time for children and young adults. What happens to a family and how they handle it also creates a specific relationship within the members of the immediate family. Remember, you did not pick this family, it picked you…therefore, I believe that God wanted you to be there for a reason. A reason you may never come to fully understand. But you are part of your family, the one you were born into, whatever makeup it is. Your family relationship is very strong and unique. So unique, that you can move away for many years, come back with your family and you may find that your parents and siblings somewhat fall into the same rolls you had within the family when you were growing up years ago. That is a strong relationship, don’t you think?
There are many other ways that a unique family relationship helps through tough life challenges. In events of crises or when someone in the family is faced with challenges, the family can be there to support each other. They share the family history of being together for many years and can almost instantly understand one of the immediate family member’s challenges and what that person might be experiencing. A family member can help at these times, like no other person can. In no way does this mean that others, outside of the immediate family, cannot also help. I just mean that immediate family have a unique understanding of each of the other family members and might understand each other family member better.
Besides the immediate family that you were born into, there are also several other layers making up a strong family. If your family members are older, you or your siblings might already be married and maybe even have children. Your spouse, your own children and maybe even their children are also very unique. You feel it when you hold your spouse or your child or just try holding your first grandchild in your arms and tell me you don’t feel the unique relationship that exists. It’s there, I know…every time I hold my 9 month old granddaughter…just holding her makes many things in life ok. This family is now surrounding you and in fact you have now started a separate immediate family of your own. Now you belong to two or maybe even more immediate families. Each of the members of those families knows you in a different way and may be able to help in challenging times differently. They may not even have to do anything other than just be there and that helps. Try to allow your different families to help you. It may be good for both you and for them.
Still further removed but still members of a family may be your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. In my case, between my mom and dad and their siblings, we had 13 aunts and uncles which multiplied into many many cousins who also had many children and our overall family became very large. Because you naturally cannot see all of them as often as you may like, the relationship again is unique. You are brought together because of family births and bloodline and are somewhat pushed into developing a relationship that turns into family friendships. This type of family relationship, when all its members are brought together can be very supportive. As in the case I just recently experienced with my father’s passing. A family can really help.
I am a Christian man so I also believe that God plays the bigger part in how we might deal with things like this. Our faith in Him and His Son Jesus Christ, along with the Holy Spirit makes us members of another family, one that makes our overall family very strong, especially when we all share that faith. When your earthly family combines with your Heavenly family, you will be able to get through anything that the world has to throw at you.
A family helps…a lot. Make sure to allow them to help you and make sure you help others in your family. As they say, giving feels better than receiving and I believe it works in families very well.
I wrote this brief article to help me understand better the relationships I had with my family members and to help with my own grief with the death of Dad. Family is important to me and it should be to you as well. You only have one.
May God bless yours!
Gary J. Kiecker