A WINTERTIME IN LIFE
Winter came to Oxford with vigor this year bringing hardship and destruction all around. I am reminded again of the dreadfulness in life that has been compared to this season of the year. Charles Swindoll, whose writings I have found enjoyable and helpful, used this comparison in his book Come Before Writer...and Share My Hope, published in 1985. He took the title of this book from Paul’s urging Timothy to come to him where he was imprisoned (II Timothy 4:21).
Paul asked Timothy to bring his cloak. Paul needed protection from the damp cold of the awful cell in which he was chained. He also requested his books, especially the parchments. Don’t you know Paul must have longed for the comfort the reading of the Word would bring him? (Sometimes it helps me simply to hold my Bible tightly in my arms over my heart as I pray.) In this same passage Paul further urged Timothy to do his utmost to come before winter. Paul knew he would not be there later than winter. His account of all his friends’ deserting him and leaving him alone as he stood trial is sad.
Few of us can claim to have the trials of Paul nor can many relate to his exceedingly close relationship with the Lord. Yet when he speaks of himself, he is ever so humble. Though our trials may not be as great as Paul’s, we nevertheless do have our times when downcast spirits are justified.
My winter did not come on cold, rainy, windy days in the season of winter. Rather it began to be felt during the cool then warm days of spring and then grew in the longer hot, dry days of summer. The grass in the pastures struggled through the hot, dry season and browned. The cows strained and struggled to reach beyond the fence for a vine or a bit of green grass, and they made frequent trips to the lakes and ponds for water to quench their thirst and often for a cooling dip, then made the way back to the shade to swish the flies away and await the cooler temperatures of the night. All around the earth showed the effects of dry weather. Small clouds gathered only to be torn apart and scattered by a slight wind.
All visible signs portrayed anything but winter, yet that feeling continued to grow inside me. Darkness crept slowly along—covering more and more of my inner being. I became more and more aware of the feeling of desolation, with a feeling of a dark cloud gradually covering me bit by bit. Feelings of frustration seemed to build up inside and work their way out through a long drawnout process—tearing me down, holding me back, bringing me to a stand still unable to perform even the smallest tasks. I felt at a loss to approach this monster—depression— which that season had made itself the master of my life.
As my own personal, bleak winter continued to consume my life, I felt the need for help, but did not know where to turn. Perhaps I was not yet willing simply to say, "I am severely depressed." Why are we slower to admit this kind of condition than our physical ills?
I felt I could not justify this depression—I had not experienced great loss, illness, disappointment or anything which in my mind warranted this desolate feeling—although I was having trouble coping with the inner ear noises which have been a part of my life for so very long. At times I do grow weary with this constant battle, and this appears to be the root of my own personal wintertime. I have been helped to see this must be accepted and must be a part of my life.
I am grateful the Lord helped me to see that depression is much like any physical problem. Through His leadership, I found counsel and help. I needed to acknowledge my problem and then set about to work my way through it. Only then could I rid myself of this black and morbid weight which was affecting every area of my life. The weight has lifted now. I am able to see how important it is that we keep our inner beings healthy just as we take care of our bodies.
I have been told that some Bible scholars believe Paul’s problem was that he had come near to a nervous breakdown as he describes his feelings in II Corinthians 1:8-9. It is somehow comforting to me that perhaps even Paul, that great giant among Christians, was susceptible to this darkness of the soul and that he could share his awareness of this problem with his friends.
I have wanted to share these thoughts with you earlier, perhaps thereby helping someone who may be working through a difficult time, however, I was hesitant to do so until I felt my time of winter had passed. I offer my encouragement to you through my own walk forward to brighter days.
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there
be no strife, I pray thee, between me
and thee, and between my herdsmen
and thy herds men; for we be brethren.
For years two monks lived together in harmony. The monotony of their lives prompted one of them to say, "Let us get out of the rut of our humdrum round of daily tasks and do something different—let us do as the world does." Having lived such a secluded life, the second monk inquired, "What does the outside world do?"
"Well, for one thing, the world quarrels."
Having lived in an atmosphere of Christian love, the monk had forgotten how to quarrel. So he asked, "How does the world quarrel? "The first monk replied, "See that stone? Put it between us and say, ‘The stone is mine." His friend, willing to accommodate, moved the stone and said, "The stone is mine."
Pausing for reflection and feeling the compulsion of their years of friendship, the monk who suggested the quarrel concluded, "Well, brother, if the stone is thine, keep it." And thus the quarrel ended.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the peace makers." (Matt. 5:9). The greater our efforts to live as Christian brothers and sisters in Christ, emulating His and sisters in Christ, emulating His love, the more successful will be our efforts to live peaceably with others.
—from Open Windows, Jan. 25, 1994
WHEN A FRIEND DIES
Grief can be devastating. An unexpected death must be the hardest to accept. It seems unreal!
More than a year has passed since the death of my good friend Jeri Oliphant and the shock and the sorrow remain. The morning Jean Crowe called me to tell me about Jeri, I went to pieces. I had been close to death before, having lost family members closer than any friend could be, but this was different. I had counted on the friendship of den, more than 5 years younger than I, to last for many years, and I felt some sorrow and guilt that I had not spent more time with her since I have been away so much.
We knew Jeri was not well. We worried so when she had surgery that August, knowing that it was hard on her sick heart. But she came through that okay and was adjusting to a less active lifestyle. Did she know death might come soon and suddenly? She never said—perhaps she wanted to talk about the future and we didn’t give her the chance. Sometimes we dodge issues that are hard to discuss.
She was a lovely person—always interested in making herself and her home attractive. I thought as I helped Nell, Marty and Bobby as we "made her pretty" in the funeral home of the skill with which she "made herself up." We tried our best—my own part being mainly observing and appreciating what the others were doing.
My sorrow is not only for myself but for Jeri’s family and for her other friends. I know den’s greatest regret would be that she can no longer take care of her girls and of Derald. She loved them so much!
In our work at the funeral home I had given so much thought to death. And I have read and studied and pondered our reactions to death. In my own attempt to deal with my feelings at the time of Jeni’s death, I wrote down some of my thoughts and prayers—some on the night of Jeri’s death, some at her funeral, some on a later visit to her home, and some on my own birthday, January 1, 1993. It helped some and I have shared the notes with some of the family.
Was friendship with Jeri worth the hurt of losing her? Yes. Would it be better to avoid the hurt by avoiding the friendships? No. As we grow older, we more often experience the deaths of our contemporaries. I hope it gets easier!
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from November 20, 1993, to March 25, 1994.
Mrs. Mary Roberts Goff 11/20/93
Mrs. Ollie May Starnes Heard 11/24/93
Mrs. Lucy King Kellum 11/28/93
Mr. Lathan Fuller Franklin 12/5/93
Mrs. Rosemary L. Kadlec 12/5/93
Mrs. Laverne Bayless Campbell 12/5/93
Mrs. Eula Mae Mooneyham 12/8/93
Mrs. Merle Burt Ray 12/12/93
Mrs. Marie Kitlinski Munday 12/12/93
Mr. Robert L. "Jack" Dooley 12/13/93
Mr. Joseph Horace McCain 12/13/93
Mr. Clarence Clifton Mills 12/17/93
Mr. Joseph W. Brunner, II 12/18/93
Mr. Claude A. Reeves 12/18/93
Mrs. Christine Daniels Wells 12/20/93
Mr. Charles Nevin Jones 12/23/93
Mr. Hilton Terrel McLarty 12/27/93
Mr. Toy Clark 12/27/93
Mrs. Addys Spears Tubbs 12/28/93
Mrs. Bernice Geeslin Childress 12/28/93
Miss Edna Rivers Snipes 12/29/93
Mrs. Georgia Skinner Mistilis 12/29/93
Mr. W. Irving Oakes 01/01/94
Mrs. Lena Mae Hawkins Busby 01/01/94
Mrs. Mary Lynette Woods Chandler 01/04/94
Miss Audrey Robena Bedenbaugh 01/04/94
Mr. David ‘Buck" Pinson Jones 01/06/94
Mrs. Bertha Lauderdale Coleman 01/09/94
Mr. Herman "Bo" Cooper Gooch 01/10/94
Mrs. Ruth Barwick Simmons 01/10/94
Mrs. Maggie E. Bruch 01/11/94
Mr. Huston Smith 01/15/94
Mr. Harold Kyle Bumgardner 01/18/94
Mrs. Pauline Winter Robertson 01/19/94
Mr. Sidney Alfred Green 01/19/94
Mrs. Edna May Pontin Mason 01/19/94
Mr. Hubert Cary Holcombe 01/20/94
Mrs. Frances Faulkner Meadow 01/21/94
Mr. C. D. Dooley 01/21/94
Mr. Earl Lewis Wimberly 01/23/94
Mrs. Corinne Malone 01/23/94
Mr. Edward K. Moore, Jr. 01/23/94
Mrs. Christine Cook Roy 01/24/94
Mr. George Robert Denley 01/25/94
Mrs. Jane Robertson Hofer 01/26/94
Miss Altha Ruth Leggitt 01/29/94
Nathaniel Russell Reeves 01/29/94
Mrs. Ila Fay Kitchens Ferguson 01/30/94
Mrs. Lavergne Shappley Stone 01/30/94
Mr. James Lee Burgess, Sr. 01/31/94
Mrs. Clidy Mae Gilley 02/05/94
Mr. Ellis Francis King 02/06/94
Mrs. Marie Sue Stalcup Murrey 02/08/94
Dr. James Erskine Parks 02/09/94
Mr. Harry Paul Hoffman 02/10/94
Mrs. Violet Wait Maples 02/11/94
Mr. Bennie Phifer Denton, Sr. 02/12/94
Mr. Mal Boat right 02/21/94
Mrs. Elizabeth B. "Beckie" Purvis 02/21/94
Mr. George Robert Johnson 02/21/94
Mrs. Lily May McElroy Harrison 02/22/94
Mrs. Irene Horton Sanderson 02/22/94
Dr. Vernon Baker Harrison 02/24/94
Mr. Hulon Dow Harwell 02/27/94
Mrs. Elizabeth Ferguson Priest 02/27/94
Mr. Hollis McGee Gaines 03/04/94
Mrs. Annie Lewis Foster 03/05/94
Mr. Calvin Edward Clark 03/08/94
Mrs. Ruth McElroy Smith 03/09/94
Mr. Robert Leonard Mathis 03/11/94
Mrs. Ozell McLarty Ferguson 03/11/94
Mr. Mark Derrick Johnson 03/15/94
Mrs. Eva Mae Ransom Sledge 03/15/94
Reverend L. Frank Bunn 03/16/94
Mrs. Gwin Della Herren 03/16/94
Mr. Jesse Parnell Champion 03/21/94
Mrs. Annie Ruth Maxey Durham 03/22/94
Miss Helen Ouida Coleman 03/23/94
Mrs. Madie Adeline Mason 03/24/94
Mrs. Ona Dale Slade 03/25/94
EXPLANATION AND THANKS
Does it seem a long time since you received the last issue of Seasons? Does the memorial list seem especially long? It has been and it is. Usually our winter issue is mailed to you during February—but The Ice Storm came as we were getting ready to put together that issue. Dealing with the effects of the storm required so much of our attention that February passed and March was fleeting before we could settle down to this part of our routine.
The families who had deaths during and immediately after the storm had additional heartaches and hardships to bear. We thank them for their understanding and help in adjusting to the special circumstances of those days. We thank North East Mississippi Power Association for restoring our electrical power as soon as possible, and we thank all who helped in other ways with funeral home and family needs.
We now daily count our many blessings—the conveniences we enjoy and the understanding and friendship of those around us.
Listed and described briefly below are a few of the books which are available for your borrowing in the Waller Funeral Home Library.
Because You Care: Practical Ideas for Helping Those Who Grieve, by Barbara Russell Chesser. Waco, Texas: Word Books Publisher, 1987. 196 pages (paperback)
This book provides practical ideas about what we can do when a friend faces the death of a loved one or other losses besides death such as divorce or other broken relationships, termination of a job, decline of financial security, a move from familiar surroundings and friends, or the "empty nest" syndrome. Other losses may include having to put an aging parent in a nursing home, having a baby with multiple handicaps, amputation or loss of the use of an arm or leg, or loss of sight or hearing. A look through chapter titles suggests help: Be There; Talk Less; Listen More; Attend the Service; Give a Hug; Write a Note; Give a Gift; Extend an Invitation.
The Grieving Child: A Parent’s Guide, by Helen Fitzgerald. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. 207 pages (paperback).
This book, a kind of primer for parents in helping their children through the process of grief, begins with cases of adults who have carried unresolved grief from their childhood and goes on to address in details the many things parents can do ho help children with their grief, thus avoiding such a fate. Parents of children from preschool age to the teen years will find guidance covering such areas as: visiting the seriously ill or dying; using language appropriate to the child’s age level; selecting useful books about death; handling especially difficult situations including murder and suicide; deciding whether a child should attend a funeral.
When a Baby Dies: A Handbook for Healing and Helping, by Rana K. Limbo and Sara Rich Wheeler. LaCrosse, Wisconsin: Resolve Through Sharing, 1986. 149 pages (paperback).
This handbook provides sensitive, practical, and thorough integration of medical information, bereavement concepts, and real-life experiences of parents. It is for those families who have lost a pregnancy or a newly-born baby or for the family members, friends, and professionals who are called upon to give them support. The authors are both registered nurses and counselors.
What Happens When We Die? by Carolyn Nystrom, illustrated by Eira Reeves. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992. 29 pages.
This children’s book helps children to understand death the reasons people die and what God has in store for them in heaven. It helps answer questions about death such as: Will it hurt? Does God want me to die? Where is heaven? Will Mom and Dad be there? How do I get there if I’m buried in the ground?
Mom, I’m All Right, by Kathleen Sandefer. Garretson, South Dakota: Kathleen Sandefer, 1990. 132 pages (paperback).
The mother of a fourteen-year-old suicide victim tells her story and offers advice and warnings to parents of teenagers. This 4,ook is for parents or relatives who have experienced the agony of teen suicide and also for teachers, elementary school through high school. The book is especially recommended to parents who have children on some type of long-term prescribed medication for hyperactivity or children with any type of learning disability.
Come Before Winter...Share My Hope, by Charles Swindoll. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1985. 534 pages (paperback).
(See top of page of this issue of Seasons for description.)
Facing Loneliness: The Starting Point of a New Journey, by J. Oswald Sanders. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Discovery House Publishers, 1988. 175 pages (paperback).
An honest attempt to provide some real-life answers to managing loneliness-whether loneliness results from the death of a spouse or a loved one, from age, unemployment, or divorce. The author shows how to identify the symptoms and causes of loneliness, and how to deal with the heart of the issue-the lonely person’s lack of intimacy. The book ends with specific positive steps to relieve loneliness.