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 to overcome. We might believe we have no control over them, and they may seem to keep happening and occurring just to us. In this life, one of the toughest challenges many of us face is the death of a parent or child.
A death of this type is a very tough event to get through, whether expected or unexpected. This event happened to me and my family in April of 2017, several weeks before I wrote this article, my father passed away, so I know from experience that it can be very trying emotionally, even for someone that has usually been emotionally strong. It’s been said that U really never miss something until it is gone, and I believe that is true in the case of people as well. When someone U love dies slowly over a period of time and U see them gradually change into something that really is almost unrecognizable from who they used to be, it gives U a new appreciation for the person they have been. When U 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 U visit or see them, the inevitable end might be viewed as more of a blessing; after all, part of life is death, whether it comes slowly, quickly, expected, or is a surprise.
I come from a family of eight; my parents, one sister, four brothers and myself. Because my siblings and I were all born within a period of about eight years, we grew up very close and shared almost everything. By today’s standards, we were not 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 we had almost every animal U might imagine on a Minnesota farm. We raised almost every type of fruit, vegetable or flower this part of the country allowed us to raise…and we loved it (except for picking cucumbers – seven acres of cucumbers that is). Most of us kids played sports growing up, and our parents supported those efforts. There was a healthy atmosphere of competition among us. 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 our work and playtime together and as well as our close ages, we grew up as a very close family, and a family can help get U through the tough life events that happen from time-to-time. When one of us is feeling really down, the others can help out by simply being there to help dispel the negative energy. I like it when a family can come together, help and supporting each other. I believe that is the way God intended it to work.
The relationships among the members of a family are very unique. Except in the case of adoption, U really cannot pick your family. When your parents combined their genes to create U (and your siblings if U have any), U had nothing to do with it. All of your natural siblings come from your bloodline, and from your parents. That makes your relationship unique right from the start. Many siblings grow up together, spending a lot of time with one another at an early age; whether they want to or not. This, again, makes the relationships in a family unique to that family. Your immediate family may also go through some very specific challenges while U 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, U did not pick this family, U were born into it and developed from your experiences growing up together. I believe God wanted U to be there for a reason. U may never come to fully understand that reason; nonetheless, U are part of the family U were born into. For all of these reasons, a family relationship is very strong and unique. It is so unique, in fact, that U might find U can move away for many years, then come back to your family and see your yourself and your parents and siblings falling into the same roles each of U held within the family when U were growing up years ago. That is a strong relationship.
There are many other ways that a unique family relationship helps through tough challenges. In events of crisis 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 other family members’ reactions or needs to challenges and experiences.
A family member can help at these times, like no other person can. Of course others, outside of the immediate family, can also help. But it remains true that immediate family have a unique understanding of each of the other family members and might better understand how best to help in a specific situation.
Besides the immediate family that U were born into, there are also several other layers making up a strong family. If your family members are older, U 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. U can feel this when U hold your spouse or your child. Just try holding your first grandchild in your arms and tell me U don’t feel the unique relationship that exists. It’s there, I know. Every time I hold my nine-month-old granddaughter, just holding her makes many things in life okay.
If U are lucky enough to still be surrounded by those family members U grew up with after starting a family of your own, U may find that U now belong to two or maybe even more immediate families. Each of the members of those families knows U 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. Try to allow your different families to help U. It may be good both for U 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. If U have a similarly large family, U naturally cannot see all of them as often as U may like, so the relationship again is unique. U 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 and fun. As in the case I just recently experienced with my father’s passing, a large family can really help.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the type of family I have discussed in this article. If that is U, then maybe U were meant to be the start of a new family? Remember, Adam started out as one, God added Eve to his life and then they were two. Give that some serious thought.
As a Christian, 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, U will be able to get through anything that the world has to throw at U.
A family helps a lot. Make sure to allow them to help U and make sure U help others in your family. As they say, giving feels better than receiving, and I believe this works in families too.
I wrote this brief article to help me better understand the relationships I had with my family and to help with my own grief with the death of my dad. Family is important to me and it should be to U as well. U only have one, and it’s usually much larger than U think. May God bless yours!
Gary J. Kiecker