“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 the hospital.

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 years.

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.” Psalm 46:1

“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 His children.

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.