So many of you prayed for my quick trip back to the States (maybe more prayers for Kyle and girls!) And I thank you so much. It was a great time to reconnect . . . see my brother's new baby girl, see my other brother living out in California, hang out at my cousin's wedding and eat a lot of fondue with the Fankhauser side of my family. I was only there for 5 full days, but we made the most of them (thanks Mom and Dad for driving me all over).
But, on a more serious note, I learned a lot. Learned a lot more about the grieving process - the process people go through when they are not physically present to grieve with other family members. We deal with sickness, death and grieving on a daily basis, but the grieving is done as a family unit and sometimes quite public.
Missionaries and others who are far from home don't have this support system to help them grieve. Sometimes the grieving doesn't even happen. We have a good cry, tell our coworkers, then move on. There's no funeral to go to and no hurting family members to hug. It is awkward to grieve far away!
I couldn't believe how healing it was to physically hug my aunt who had just lost her husband. To tell my cousins "I'm sorry" in person instead of on the computer. Until I got to Michigan with them, I didn't realized I had stopped the grieving process. Didn't realize how incomplete my process had been.
So what did I really learn. . . . to pray even more for my coworkers who lose loved ones while on the field. To encourage them to have as much contact with family as they can over the weeks following. And whenever possible to buy that plane ticket and fly back to be there.