James Prescott is one of those rare souls on the internet who always seems to be encouraging others and cheering people on. He has some great things to say about art and creativity, and his writing comes from a deep place, as today’s beautiful post shows. Over to James:
It happened April 29, 2000. At 8.30am.
I was awoken by the sound of my brick-like mobile phone. It was my dad. I was still half asleep, eyes not really open, when he began to speak, in a tone unlike his normal one.
It was soft. Melancholy. Serious. Simple.
Four simple words.
“Your Mum’s passed away.”
No one who hasn’t experienced grief of this nature can understand the feeling of hearing those words.
I was numb. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t even know what to think.
So I just got doing. Went to see the body in the hospital.
When I saw the body in the hospital, I recognised my mum. It had all her little unique features. Right down to the messy hair, and the writing on the hand.
But it wasn’t my Mum. She had gone.
It was a shell. The mother I loved, who had loved me from the moment I was born, was not here anymore. She had gone somewhere else.
My immediate emotion, believe it or not, was anger. I was angry my mum had abandoned me. Gone and died and not asked my permission. Left me in the lurch. And angry at God for sitting by, able to do something about it, but doing nothing.
It didn’t help when people said kind things, or that they understood…or told me Mum was in heaven.
Frankly, I didn’t want her in heaven. I wanted her back. And they didn’t understand at all.
The anger at my Mum passed quickly. But not my anger with God. However, I quickly chose to numb my emotions. My job was to be strong for everyone else.
Except this didn’t work. What was actually doing burying my pain. Refusing to feel anything, because if I did, it would destroy me.
But ten days later this changed. We were preparing mum’s funeral music. And we played a song – ‘Diamonds on the soles of her shoes” by Paul Simon – which we all knew perfectly encapsulated my Mum.
And that was it. I began crying. And I kept on crying.
I apologised to my sister as I collapsed into her arms, and she admonished me – she said it was OK to feel this way, that crying was actually a good thing. She didn’t need me to be strong. I needed to cry.
This was the beginning of a long process of healing. It took counselling and prayer, but eventually I came to terms with the loss of my mum.
But something had changed forever. My level of consciousness shifted.
Suddenly, my faith, which up until this moment had been built on certainty and rules, was up for questioning. I had doubts. I had questions for God. Part of my faith didn’t make sense anymore.
I now saw beyond the boundaries of the Christian bubble. I had sampled grim reality. The truth that unlike many parts of the Christian church still like to think, God doesn’t solve every problem. The sick person doesn’t always get healed. The dead person doesn’t always rise from the grave.
There had to be more to God than I’d experienced. There was something bigger, deeper, more mysterious going on which I didn’t understand.
I couldn’t go back.
For four years, I couldn’t articulate this. But then I picked up the book ‘Velvet Elvis’ at a conference. I read it inside two hours, cover to cover. And inside I found a new way of understanding my relationship with the divine. Allowing for doubt, mystery, questioning, and seeing old truths and stories in new ways.
Next spring I found a new church, where doubts and questions were welcomed and talked about openly. Where there was room for mystery and unknowing. Where I could finally ask those questions I’d had.
I began to find a deeper, more mysterious, bigger, intimate relationship with God. Expanding far wider than I would ever have known otherwise. And it’s still expanding today.
But my anger at God still remained. He’d still not told me why He let this happen.
It was still unresolved.
Then in 2014, two of my good friends lost a parent. In fact, both lost their mothers.
One sent Facebook messages telling me how frustrating it could be to get well messages saying “I understand” from friends, which as I knew, actually just made things worse.
And another friend, who I sent a text to, saying I was sorry, and that if they needed to talk, or anything else, I was here.
I didn’t give them answers. But I was able to be a listening ear. To stand in solidarity.
And as I reflected on these two experiences, something happened in me. I felt a warmth in my heart. My whole body was slowly overwhelmed by the peace and presence of God. And for the first time in a long time, I heard His gentle voice, saying simply:
Even recounting this story now brings tears to my eyes. It did then, and does now. I felt humbled, privileged to be able to be a part of someone else’s healing.
And I felt something in me was healed too.
I still have my why moments about my Mum’s death. The pain is still there. Sometimes it still makes no sense. It’s still unresolved in some ways.
But now I can take comfort, from remembering the healing my experience brought to others. How my suffering became a source of life to people I love.
I remember how the experience has led me to a deeper, bigger, more intimate and mysterious relationship with the divine, which I would never have known otherwise.
And I feel a sense of joy. From knowing Mum’s death was not in vain.
James Prescott is a writer, author & coach from Sutton, near London. He is the author of ‘Dance Of the Writer: A Beginners Guide To Authentic Writing’, available free on his blog. He shares about identity, calling, & spirituality on his blog JamesPrescott.co.uk & his upcoming podcast ‘James Talks’. James loves movies, writing, and is a big advocate of lip sync battles. You can find him on Twitter & Instagram at @JamesPrescott77 & on Facebook at James Prescott – Writer.
“I didn’t want her in heaven. I wanted her back.” – @JamesPrescott77 A Grief Unresolved:
“God doesn’t solve every problem. The sick person doesn’t always get healed.” – @JamesPrescott77 A Grief Unresolved:
“I began to find a deeper, more mysterious, bigger, intimate relationship with God.” – @JamesPrescott77 for @tanya_Marlow:
“My suffering became a source of life to people I love.” – @JamesPrescott77 A Grief Unresolved:
Over to you:
Like James’ experience, Paul writes this in the New Testament:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor 1:3-4
- When have you been able to relate to this?