Coping with Grief
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“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Ps. 90:12
“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”
"The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like flowers of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” Ps.103:15.
Do not look for any engraved memorial to me.
I am finally in my True Home. I have gone to be with the Lord. No longer must I feel like an alien misfit in a foreign land.
I have completed my pilgrimage. Don’t weep for me. I am now with God. Trust in the Lord and look forward to that. Think about that cross and trust His abounding kindness, compassion, and merciful forgiveness. Believe the good news of His love for us. Do not hesitate to take it to heart. It is free.
I won’t list the withered grass of my accomplishments. I will, instead, share some things I loved and some I did not. I loved my boyhood in the mountainous woodlands of northern Pennsylvania. I loved the simple joys of being in that time and place and with my friends and family. Until my dying day, I loved to be among trees and in unspoiled places. I felt strange and empty in cities. I stayed away from them.
Thank you for life, Mom and Dad for doing your damnedest to see that I was okay. I loved you and the fun of happier days. I fervently hoped my parents would find greater happiness instead of bitterness that was so often theirs. Eventually I understood how much I learned and grew from that.
In boyhood, I also learned the joys of reading – to escape, imagine, and expand my world. Books always helped me. Thank you, teachers and librarians. I loved reading. I loved learning.
I loved writing and wrote countless professional reports, theses and evaluations, as well as newspaper columns, letters to editors, blog posts, and my spiritual memoir, Dancing for the Fat Lady, which highlights the spiritual truth and beauty of Chippewa/Ojibwa traditions. It recounts my years of Sundancing as well as introducing other ceremonies. I loved the Chippewa and poured out my heart for healing (from contact with us!) and well-being. I lived long enough to see flickering flames of hope, peace and well-being all across “Indian Land”.
I loved the Packers! Lorraine and I filled our living room with loud cheers as we nervously munched our way through each game. We even trekked to magical Lambeau Field to see them.
I loved my own family. We shared innumerable happy times practically from the time each of the four children was born. It is impossible to describe all the happiness they all gave me. We loved camping, hiking, fishing, spotting deer, campfires and the wonderful humor of passing gas. Board games and verbal play were our indoor favorites. All of us loved ice skating, too, and, of course, reading.
I loved their mother deeply. She had suffered incalculable losses as a child born in the Philippines just three years before the Japanese invasion. She lost home, country, childhood security and innocence. Amidst all the terror, her father was killed right before her eyes. For her, a solid, peaceful sense of self and safety were not to be. It finally became too painful for us. I continued to love her, but only from a disengaged distance. She died many years ago. I failed at a brief second marriage, and having done the best we could, we respectfully parted ways. I was done with marriage!
But,… like a delicious dessert after a good meal, the best was yet to come. I loved Lorraine Hoyer, my third wife, more than I can express in words. We travelled our joined-individual paths together for the remainder of our days. As life’s energy declined, we carried on struggling, coping, supporting, laughing, and enjoying. And always growing – together. We loved to take mini-vacations, travel a bit, eat out when we could, and watching movies. Thank you Lord. Thank you, Lorraine.
I loved my professional work. I loved teaching and challenging college students to observe, think, and integrate. However, I was at my professional best as a clinician, especially when I could play a part in the emotional/spiritual healing of others, regardless of their age, race or other status considerations.
In later years, I focused my attention and love increasingly on the beautiful oppression-scarred Chippewa people, both in the U.S. and in Canada. I loved Jesus Christ, the spiritual life, the ceremonies and the role I was honored to fill in the ancient sacred continuity of healing in the largest and richest meaning of that word – healing.
The more I grew in His kindness, the more I hated abuse of power, racism, cruelty, injustice, greed, dishonesty and the excruciating ruination brought about by the unrestrained love of money and all arrogance and delusion of superiority and entitlement that define success in our culture. Giving, sharing, helping, and just being kind are infinitely better. I wish I had done better and grown more.
Even though I repeatedly and inevitably failed to honor them with worthy deeds, I loved God’s pure ways of Love and Life. I am forever indebted to His lavish love and mercy and I joyfully receive my Lord’s broken body and His blood shed for my failures.
From my current perspective, the memories of sad and painful times, including my many stupid and hurtful mistakes, and wrong turns, have swiftly faded – gone – disappeared. Of course, they were all forgiven long before this. And you wonder why the Lamb’s broken body and dying blood are called “precious”?
It’s so good to reunite with family and old friends, with my fellow warriors and pilgrims and with even some former “enemies.” We all have nothing but love and mutual respect and understanding to share now. And we give thanks to our Creator and worship in awe and adoration. In this realm, it flows naturally from our enlightened hearts and minds. Wow!
I hope you understand that this is a gift. I did nothing to deserve it. Jesus Christ lived His extraordinary life of goodness, grace, and truth and then willingly died so this, His own rightful inheritance, could be ours as well. It cost Him everything, and it costs us nothing. We could never earn it or repay Him for it. A humble “thank you” is sufficient.
Raymond is survived by his wife, Lorraine Hoyer; his children, Dr. Jonathan Drake, Cynthia “Sis” Bolivar (George Ashenfelter), Julie Drake-Lloyd (Steve), Steve Drake (Nancy); one step-son, Jay Hoyer (Teri); one brother, Rick Drake (Christine); seven grandchildren; Forest, Rio, Audrey, Evan, Christian, Alliana, and Asa.
He was preceded in death by his parents, as well as his sister Shirley Ann Kipp.
A celebration of life will be held on August 24, from 2-4 at Coop’s Pizza, which is at 10588 California Ave, Hayward, WI.
In lieu of flowers donations may be forwarded to the Sawyer County Senior Resource Center Meals on Wheels at 715-634-3000 and/or Hayward Community Food Shelf at 715-634-4237.