Death Comes Suddenly

This post was written about a month ago…

We received news out of the blue that Ammon’s uncle had died suddenly from a motorcycle accident on Wednesday night. I couldn’t wrap my mind around this sudden turn of events. We had recently been working on some relationship struggles with Ammon and his family. New Hope’s childcare extension had intervened and progress was being made. The relationship between Ammon and his uncle was already strained, but it seemed to be heading in the right direction. Sadly, they were not able to reconcile their differences before the accident claimed his uncle’s life. I can’t imagine how awful it must feel for Ammon to know things did not end well with his uncle and there is no changing that…ever.

I’m sad to say I never did meet his uncle and his death is what caused me to meet his aunt for the first time. I deeply regret this. Life has been busy with teaching my boys and dealing with a toddler who has hit the terrible two’s awfully early. I’m often house bound and the ministry I do have is with the children who come to us. Ammon has been one of those children.

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Thursday morning I walked to Ammon’s house to give him a hug and check in on the family. Having been here in Uganda nearly a year, I’m still not sure what to expect in different circumstances. I realized I was once more unprepared for the next hour of my life. I was directed to a room full of aunties…family members and friends who had come to mourn together. I sat on the floor with the women and cried with them again. I expressed my sadness to the aunt whose husband died, leaving her with 6 children to raise alone, as well as Ammon and his brother, Amos.

His uncle’s body had not yet been buried and he was lying on a bed in the corner, covered with a sheet and a lantern burning on his chest. Auntie pulled back the sheet to reveal his face and it hit me for the first time. She had just lost her lover and provider, the children had lost a father, and his family had lost a brother and a son. Whether he had been a great man or not, whether he had made the best decisions for his children or not, whether he had always treated people with kindness or not…the loss was real. Lives had been forever changed in the moment he died. Ammon had lost a second father and his younger brother had lost the only father he could remember. His six children were now orphans along with Ammon and Amos. How could life change so quickly?

So, I sat on that mat with all the women who had gathered to mourn and I mourned too. I prayed for God to be her strength and to meet her in this time of need and grief. I trust He will. I have never seen a woman so grief stricken.

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Yesterday was the burial and Troy and I went alone. Most of it was spoken in Lugandan, so I’m not sure what was shared. Ammon told me he was giving a message of hope about Christ. We stood among the dark bodies and followed them when it was time to bury the body. We listened to the loud cries as people verbally expressed their sorrow. We saw quite a few familiar faces. Many had come to share in the grief of this tremendous loss. It warmed my heart to see young people I have come to know and love put their hands on Ammon’s shoulder and stand by him to make sure he did not grieve alone. These young people have all stood in his shoes. They know the loss of a parent, or both parents. They understand in ways I cannot and they made sure he didn’t stand alone. I was so proud to see them reaching out and to see him respond to their tenderness.

That is life in Uganda. There is a whole lot of loss and a whole lot of love toward those in the moments of their grieving. It’s beautiful and it’s sad in ways I have never experienced before. Please pray for this family as they move forward. Pray for the widow. She has collapsed many times from the weight of this loss and she needs the strength of the Lord to sustain her…truly. Pray for the children as they process in different ways that their father is gone. Pray for us to have wisdom as we pour into Ammon and help him sort out his own thoughts and feelings in all this. Pray that we would have wisdom to know how to be involved with this family in a healthy way.

In the days that followed his death, Ammon’s aunt came to know Christ for the first time. I’m so thankful she grieves with HOPE. Please continue to keep her in your prayers as she picks up the pieces and presses on.

“The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.” Psalm 146:9

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