Coping with long-distance grief


This morning, I received news from back home in KL, Malaysia that my nephew has lost his fight against cancer. He was only 33.

How does one convey that sense of grief at losing a family member whom I’ve come to know better in recent years? Me, I write.

Words on the screen provide some cathartic effect, some measure of closure? Of healing? I’m not sure but it feels better nonetheless. It’s difficult for us as we try to cope with the loss of a loved one from so many miles away. Me and Jo, over here in London, and my nephew’s body, over in Kuala Lumpur. I looked through some old photos (as many of us would) to put up here as I remember him in happier times and days.

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Jeff is the central bespectacled gent in the trio of bespectacled gents

Throughout my growing up years, visits to Jeffery’s house would also involve chats with him – he was as geeky as I was. We loved our gear and technology. In later years he left overseas to further his studies and I didn’t keep in contact with him. After all, there would always be a Chinese New Year soon when he would have returned from his studies and we can hook up. I didn’t know him all that well then (or I might have met my wife a lot sooner than I have! Jo practically grew up with Jeff).

Fast forward several years – I had met my lovely wife Jo and the church she was attending happened to be my home church that I had started out in, and Jeff was her close friend there. We were still geeky, we both had Wiis in our places and he had a great love for Zelda games. We bonded better then I think – our respective love for the Wii and Zelda games brought us closer and I also got to hang out a lot more with him via church. A patient and gentle man with a great love for singing and playing the guitar. He was also one of the biggest Apple junkies I know – his house was loaded with Apple gear!

Today is the first day of his wake in Malaysia. Under Chinese tradition, there’s a few days of mourning before the burial happens. I wish I could somehow transport myself and Jo there in a blink of an eye so that we can join others in mourning the loss of a family member and a friend. His battle against cancer was inspirational and though his fight was long and arduous, he continually kept a gentle humility about him. A sense of strength from supernatural provision. A faith that God would deliver him – yet, an openness to be brought home to the Lord if that’s what is in the grand plan. It’s a difficult tussle for us Christians at the best of times and at the end of the day, I believe that the last years of his life was spent fruitfully.

We believed very strongly that he would be healed and he would live – but it was not to be.

 

Goodbye Jeff – May you rest easy in heaven. We’ll miss you down here on earth until the day we all meet again.

 

 

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