Coping with Grief and Loss: Minnie’s Testimony/ by Patti Greene, Greene Pastures by Patti [From Email notifications, click the title for best web viewing]
Grief and loss usually go hand-in-hand. Minnie recently agreed to an interview about how her grief and loss has made her a better person. Her brother, husband, and two sons died. But, God was her support before, during, and after her losses.
This interview took place on August 2, 2016 on the Carnival Liberty cruise ship operated by Carnival Cruise Line. I met Minnie for the first time on the ship. During a breakfast together, I knew her story had to be told.
Life in a Nutshell
Minnie, I really appreciate the opportunity to ask you some very tough and candid questions about your life. In this interview, my goal is to pull out some insights so others may benefit from your life experiences regarding healing, death, grief, sorrow, and the ability to move on. Please tell me a short summary of your life.
I married at a young age in 1962. After having three boys, Jimbo, Kurt, and Paul, I became a single mother through divorce. My first husband and I were unequally yoked in the things of God, so I knew that if I ever remarried, I would only marry a strong believer. I wanted to seek God again, but I didn’t know how to. After some time being a single mom and growing in the Lord, I married my second husband Morgan. We became parents to two lovely daughters: Melody and Robin. My brother died the age of 40 in 1986. My son Kurt passed away at the age of 24 from a tragic motorcycle accident in 1990. My husband Morgan passed away in 2013. My son Jimbo passed away at the age of 51 from alcoholism in 2014. I became a believer at 10-years old and was baptized at Nederland Hillcrest Baptist Church. I have always had a heart for God even though I haven’t always walked close to Him. As a child, I used to put a map on my bed and I prayed for the nations. I am 72-years old now.
Healing and Death
In 1986, you prayed for your brother’s healing. In 1991, you prayed for your husband’s healing. Your brother was not healed, but your husband was healed. Any insights?
In 1986 when my brother was gravely ill, Morgan and I prayed so much for his healing. In the hospital, I was paralyzed with fear. I was so scared and afraid. Now, I know that it was [spiritual] warfare – a fight of faith. God was trying to teach me to walk by faith. I was disappointed because I was learning my new walk with God and I didn’t know why my prayers of faith did not work for my brother. And he died.
Then in 1991, my husband was diagnosed with mesothelioma which is a rare form of cancer directly related to asbestos exposure. Mayo Clinic says, “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. Mesothelioma treatments are available, but for many people with mesothelioma, a cure is not possible.” At the time, I knew I served a powerful God and that He could do anything. One day as I laid beside my husband during his illness, I thought I was smothering to death. But, I went into another room and fell to my knees knowing that God wanted to talk to me, I asked, “Are you going to require my husband’s life to do this?” God responded, “No, I am going to make you a woman of faith over this.” This is when my faith journey began. Many people prayed for my husband during this illness. And, Morgan was completely healed. He lived 22 years after his diagnosis. His medical case is documented at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas. The doctor said that he only knew of two other survivors of mesothelioma and they were not in the United States.
But, with every loss, I have had, I have become stronger and stronger.
Tell me about the deaths your sons Jimbo and Kurt.
Jimbo passed away from alcoholism in 2014. I took care of him the last year of his life and watched his condition weaken until he passed. In 1990, Kurt died in a motorcycle accident when he was 24-years old. He was also struggling with alcoholism at the time.
When your husband and son Jimbo died, you had time to prepare for their deaths, but when your son Kurt died unexpectedly in the motorcycle accident, was it a different experience?
Very much so. But, I didn’t have any regrets. I had many sweet talks with Kurt before he passed away. He shared an experience he had with God. He said he was in the front yard and a plant had a hot flame flaring up from the gas. God told him, “Kurt, if you don’t change your ways, this is what is waiting for you.” He had another experience seeing the stars, the moon, and the clear skies. The Lord said, “This is what is waiting for you if you come back to me.” Then, one night, Kurt called late at night and he cried and we spent time talking together. So I didn’t have any regrets.
You had mentioned to me that your sons and husband were prepared for life after death. What do you mean?
They all had a personal relationship with Jesus. They knew Him and I know they are in Heaven.
In Jonah 4:6, Jonah mentions, “It is better for me to die than to live.” Did you ever feel that way?
Not like Jonah did. I was not in defeat or despair, because God gave me glimpses of the other side [Heaven]. I realized that it is better to be in the presence of God. I never wanted to die due to my losses.
Grief and Sorrow
Out of all of your life experiences, what was the hardest situation you have ever faced?
It was when Jimbo was 16-years old and Kurt was 14-years old. They both wanted to go and live with their father. It was the first real heartbreak of my life. They were striped from my arms. They both wanted to go where they could drink and have no restrictions. Jimbo was only gone a year because he could not live the Christian life at Daddy’s house. But, Kurt never did come home.
Any other heart-breaking experiences?
What broke my heart more than death was seeing the struggles my sons went through with their alcohol addiction. Jimbo would go off for months at a time and my mind thought the worst. But, I know where they are and God has confirmed that to me.
How has grief and loss affected you?
It has made me a better person. It has helped me to know how real God is. He is true to His word. He has made me stronger. There is nothing He will not sustain me in.
Did you ever ask God, “Why me?”
It appears your sorrows were greatly multiplied more than others. Why do you think that happened to you?
I feel like He’s been preparing and using me to help others during their dark times. I encourage others and help them see that what they are going through is not the end. God does not view death the way we do. He wants us to see death through His eyes. I don’t view death as the end.
Prayer During Tough Times
What was your prayer life like during these times?
After each loss, I experienced grief differently. I gained more insight into prayer and how God works with each loss.
I experienced times of fear when Kurt was in a coma before his passing. I could not pray. Words would not come. I just said the name of “Jesus” over and over.
When I was in the hospital with Kurt in 1990, his nurse whispered in my ear and told me to keep praying. She said, “When you aren’t here with him, I am praying for him.” After Kurt passed away, I could not cry. My mom brought me into the hospital bathroom and said, “It’s okay to cry.” But, I couldn’t.
At the time, I was caring for everyone and I felt God was carrying me in his arms. I found my release after the funeral and I grieved properly.
What does the phrase “time is short” mean to you?
It means we are allotted so much time. We must make the most of every day. We should see God’s work in all we do. His handiwork is everywhere. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
In 1991, you were impressed that God wanted you to be a “Woman of Faith.” Can you explain that?
When I pray for people, I feel the power of God. I love to read the gospels and life of Jesus. Jesus says in His word that He has given us power and authority on earth to preach the gospel. I’m not a preacher, but we can teach in our everyday lives. We can see people recover when we lay hands on the sick by the power of Jesus has given us. If a child of God does not know about this power and authority, they may live far beneath what God’s purpose is for them.
As you look forward, do you have any goals?
Yes, I want to go to Africa. I just want to touch as many lives as possible. I want to them to be saved, healed, and delivered.
Advice to Others
If you could share one tidbit of wisdom to young women, what would it be?
I would tell young women to let God be the center of their lives. The cry of my heart is that they must pass His name on to the next generation. The greatest gift for children is to pass on a godly heritage. They must guide their children by example. If passing on God stops with us, we will have a lost generation. Another thing I see is people speaking death over their children by talking negatively about them. We must speak life and good things over our children.
After all the grief and loss you have been through, do you have a favorite Scripture passage?
Yes, it is Psalm 91. I would encourage those reading this psalm to substitute their own name in this chapter to make it more personal and meaningful to them.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place,
the Most High, who is my refuge,
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Any last thoughts?
I just want people to know Jesus like I know Him. I don’t want people to live for themselves. I want my life to count for Him. I don’t want to waste my life. I see so many people throwing their lives away and living for the NOW. There is so much more and we need to go deeper with God.
Minnie, thank you so much for sharing the love of Jesus with the readers of Greene Pastures. Through teary eyes you shared your heart and soul.
May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29:11)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. (2 Corinthians 7:11)
Dear Heavenly Father, we don’t know why tragedy and loss come upon some and not others. But, we know that when and if it does come upon us that you are there to see us through. You always know the big picture for our lives. As we seek to understand your will and ways, let us never lose heart that your desire for us is always for our best. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version containing the Old and New Testament. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001. [All verses come from the English Standard Bible unless noted otherwise]
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