Many years ago I saw a Larry King television show where he was interviewing Tommy Lasorda about the unexpected death of his adult son.
Larry King use to have a late night television interview show where he interviewed celebrities and all kinds of famous people. Tommy Lasorda was the manager for the LA Dodgers in the 90’s and very popular as a spokesperson for various products in television commercials.
In this particular episode, Larry King was asking Tommy Lasorda about the recent death of his 30 something year old son. Tommy Lasorda was explaining to Larry King how he felt stuck in his grief and felt withdrawn from life until one day when a thought hit him.
Tommy Lasorda said that one day while he was feeling hopeless, something came to his mind. He said, The thought hit me, if God would have come to me and said, Tommy I will give you a son, but you can only have him for 30 years, would you still want him? Tommy Lasorda told Larry King that his next thought was, Yes! Of course I’ll take him even if it only means 30 years.
Tommy Lasorda pointed to that moment as the turning point for him in his grief journey. The moment he asked himself this question, was the moment he was able to make a cognitive shift and get a bigger picture that helped him cope with his grief properly.
I share this story with you because sometimes in the grieving process it is good to pause and ask yourself some questions. By asking yourself some questions, you can focus more on the rational and free yourself from getting stuck in an emotional downward spiral.
The same kind of question that Tommy Lasorda asked himself is a good one to consider, just make it applicable to your situation. You can easily restate it as if God said, You can marry him but if I take him back in 10 years, would you still want to marry him?
If you are beating yourself up with “if only I’d” thinking it can be good to ask yourself some questions like, If I really didn’t leave to go to the grocery store, would he have not had that massive heart attack?
Asking yourself some questions help re-frame the circumstances and allow you to see that what happened would happen regardless if you did something different on that day that your loved one died. When our time is up, our time is up. As we read in Hebrews 9:27, “it is appointed unto men once to die.”
I once got called to the emergency department because a 48 year old patient came in after having what appeared to be a heart attack in his front yard. As it turned out, we couldn’t revive the patient and he was pronounced dead. When the family arrived they shared the full story.
What happened was the man’s teenage daughter left with a boyfriend that she was forbidden to see. When she returned to the house, dad met her outside in the front lawn where they exchanged some loud words with each other. The daughter’s last words to her dad were, “I don’t ever want to talk to you again.”
As soon as the daughter said “I don’t ever want to talk to you again” dad fell to the ground with a fatal heart attack. When I met the daughter at the hospital, she was inconsolable. In her mind she had caused her dad’s death. The physician tried to consul her that her dad’s heart was going to crash at any minute regardless of their fight or her words.
Sometimes we need to get above the emotions and ask ourselves, Would my loved one not have died if I would have done something different? The answer to that is still Yes. Even if you can argue a logical sequence of change of events, because God ultimately has the final say and He gets to pick how it happens and who gets to play a part in the circumstances.
Romans 8:28 reminds us that “all things work together for good to them that love God” and that means that even in our sorrows of grief and loss we can get through that by getting closer and stronger in our relationship with the Lord.