“There’s been an accident, you need to call Craig immediately!”
These are the words that greeted us as we entered Gramp’s home.
It was a Saturday evening (November 6, 1993) and we had just been to
the Penn State-Indiana football game. Instead of going home, we had
gone to Selinsgrove since Dianne's mother was in the hospital.
I immediately called Craig to learn the stunning news that my parents
had been in an automobile accident. Mother was killed and dad was in
We quickly packed and raced, in silence, the two hours to Lancaster
General Hospital. There we met family members and learned that indeed
mother had been killed instantly. Dad was hospitalized, but not in critical
condition. We learned that a teenager, on his way to work, ran a stop
sign and hit my parents’ car, broadside, on my mother’s
side. My parents had been on their way home after doing some shopping
at a nearby store.
The next few days were a blur of activity. We had funeral arrangements
to make. We had a burial lot to buy and a casket to choose. We had to
get Dad’s damaged glasses repaired so that he could see. We had
to find Mother’s possessions that were left in the car. We had
all sorts of people to call as well as numerous other unexpected jobs.
Despite the heavy loss, the Lord gave us all a very special peace that
can’t be explained. It was actually a special time of fellowship
and bonding with our family.
Dad was released from the hospital in time for the services. Dianne
and I stayed overnight with him for about a week while he tried to adjust
to his deep loss.
We had a private funeral service for the family and then we took her
for burial in the Moravian Cemetery just down the street from their
home. In fact her gravesite can just about be seen from home. But, she
was no longer there. Her Lord Jesus Christ was welcoming her into her
new home. Absent from the body, present with the Lord.
The church provided a meal for the family following the burial and before
a memorial service planned at the church for that evening.
Little did we realize how people would respond. Hundreds of folks came
from far and near to greet us and to participate in the service. The
line was so long that after delaying the service for 30 minutes we had
to cut off the line and continue it after the service.
The church was packed beyond capacity as we worshipped and cried while
singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, “Like A River
Glorious” and mother’s favorite “In The Garden”.
The words were so meaningful as we realized again that God was in control
of all the events in our life. And while we still miss her greatly,
we know that she is in a better place and has been released from the
physical problems with which she suffered almost daily in her latter
The Lord used many scriptures to comfort us during that time. “My
grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows my
way.” Psalm 142:3
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”
“God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is work within us.” Ephesians 3:20
There were many lessons that the Lord taught me during this time. I
was reminded that God is our strength and hope and that he alone can
give real peace. His promises are real!
Life is very short. Don’t put off things, which are important.
Family and friends are a special blessing, which the Lord provides for
Taking time to grieve is vital.
There are ways to help a grieving person. Give them a call or visit
with them, but keep it short. Some well meaning folks just stayed too
long. Don’t give advice or say, “I know what you are going
through” because you probably don’t. Don’t quote verses
such as the death of a loved one being precious in the sight of the
Lord. Easy for you to say since it wasn’t your loved one
that you just lost.
Don’t say, “If there is anything I can do for you just give
me a call.” I wish I had a dollar for everyone who said that to
us. That’s a cop-out! Instead, do something – bring a meal,
cut their grass, collect their leaves, or something practical. We told
folks to invite dad out for a meal after things settled down. Many said
they would. Few ever did.
Send a card but make sure to include a personal note with remembrances
of the loved one who died. These can bring hours of comfort months and
years after the funeral.
And finally, don’t forget the bereaved persons weeks and months
later when the separation and loneliness finally take hold. Most do
forget. Friendships then are vital and appreciated.
Finally, I learned that you need to go on with life. Things will have
changed, but God never changes. He has promised to never leave us or
forsake us and He does honor that promise.
God is good, all the time.