Grief: How do you live with it?
© Betty Sue Eaton
Exactly how does one manage to go on after the shattering loss of a loved one?  For Lottie
Bradley, she enlisted a partner: Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Upon meeting her, one would never see the pain and sorrow that pervaded her everyday life.
She was a feisty seventy-year old lady with an attitude! Besides running a successful real
estate firm from her home, she also owned and ran a very profitable nationally known insurance
company. As I sat and listened to her explain the rental situation in her town, I was dismayed at
the dim prospect of finding one that I could afford, especially since I had not yet begun my new
job as Distributive Ed. Instructor at the local high school and I had no money. But she persisted
saying that she felt sure that God had sent me to her to help.  I noticed during that first meeting
that Lottie had a large scar running up the side of her neck. Social manners prevented me from
mentioning it even though it was most obvious to even the casual visitor.

Lottie was an army nurse in WWII stationed in England at the height of hostilities there. She met
and married a US fighter pilot as the war ground down, and finally they returned to the United
States to begin their lives together. They produced one son, the apple of their eyes. But when
their son was a teenager, his father was killed in an airplane accident. Lottie was devastated at
the loss of her life partner and she was left to raise her young son alone.

Seeking her own way after years out of the work force, even as I was doing, she bought the
insurance business and became a certified realtor at the same time. Then she met Frank
Bradley, an old bachelor rancher and cowboy in his late 50's. After a short time, she and Frank
fell in love and were married, moving from his beloved ranch into town where his "little spitfire
wife" could continue her businesses. Then again tragedy hit as her only son was killed in a car
crash. Her grief was overwhelming! However, she continued with her businesses and kept busy
in the Episcopal church where she and Frank were long time members. It was in England and in
their church as well where she developed a very close and intimate relationship with God and
spoke with Him daily as she would a friend who came into her office for business or her home
for tea.

But she would not be spared yet further grief. She developed breast cancer and had a radical
mastectomy, and during the radiation therapy, received third degree burns on the left side of
her upper body resulting in the awful scar I noticed on the day we met. But even that did not
dampen her enormous spirit to live! As I sat with her one day having a glass of iced tea, she
spoke with me about all that she had suffered and how she managed to retain her "spitfire"
quality of life. "I told God", she said, "You take care of my eternal soul in heaven, and let me
take care of the real estate business here on earth and we'll get along just fine!".  Apparently
that had been her mantra from the first tragedy of losing her beloved husband so many years

Yet, other trials were in store for Frank and Lottie as he was diagnosed with untreatable
emphysema, and when I met them, he was required to use oxygen almost 24-hours a day. Still
he had strength to visit and laugh with me a few minutes each time I was in their home and
always told me to "Hurry back, now!"  But there was more yet: Lottie's cancer had returned and
metastasized so that no further treatment could stop it. She knew she would not survive this
one! But it still did not slow her down either in work or spirit!

I left their town when the school year ended as I had found another position as a junior college
instructor about 200 miles away, but I never lost track or closeness with Lottie and Frank
Bradley.  I believe that it was true that God had sent me to Lottie to guide me through launching
my career as a brand new school teacher at age 48, and to provide an example that you CAN
survive any- and everything that life sends you.  And I have never forgotten her enormous will
to live even after so many life shattering and life changing tragedies. She had a personal
friendship with God that I have seen in no one else, until I met Ferna Lary Mills, Director of
Rainbow Faith.  Although I have never read of Ferna exactly telling God what Lottie did, I can
feel it in her spirit and trust:  "God, you take care of my eternal soul in heaven, and I'll take care
of real estate - (Rainbow Faith) here on earth, and we'll get along just fine!"

So how does one live with grief? By trusting God to care for your soul that has been battered
by tragedy, continue to care for those things that are mortal and provide you with a livelihood
and joy, and continue to see Him as your best friend and supporter! He DID promise to be
those things, didn't He?  I, for one, and all of the people whom I have written about believe Him
and rely on Him everyday for just today, just one more day. Life IS one day at a time until there
is no more pain, heartache or night, with Him in heaven.


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