This grief road is so up and down that it is utterly exhausting. I get up in the morning sometimes felling like, “It’s going to be a good day.”, and that might last for several hours, or it might last for a few minutes; I never know. I’ve always been a believer in controlling one’s thoughts and emotions, to the extent possible, and up until my middle son passed away, I thought I was fairly decent at doing that. Now? Not so much. I still believe it is a good practice to try to control your thoughts and emotions, but it seems impossible to do at times. The wife of our pastor, when we were engaged, gave me a piece of advice for sustaining my marriage for my entire life that has transferred to almost every area of my life, until now. She told me there were two options, or choices, in marriage – to be happily married, or to be unhappily married; divorce is not an option. That bit of advice struck me, as a young woman about to become a wife, as something that would be wise to use in many areas of life on a daily basis. But, grieving the loss of a much-loved son seems to not be one of them. Of course I can still choose my moods, so to speak, and I try to do that everyday. But, choosing not to grieve is not an option, it seems. And, grieving goes on and on and on…….just like the love I have for my son goes on and on and on. It never ends. His life here on the earth ended, much too soon, and against my will. But, I will never stop loving him, so I will never stop grieving the loss of his life. The “new normal” so many people have told me would come about seems to me to be a “new me” more than a “new life style”, as I imagined they were talking about. And, the new me seems to be colored with a constant underlying sadness and anger.
I am a great lover of nature – the sky, trees, grass, earth, flowers, snow and rain, sunny days, the sunrise and sunset – I love God’s creation and marvel at it. But, nothing in God’s creation compares to the creation of another human life. I thought I was living until I gave birth to my first child. I thought I had loved until I held her in my arms for the first time. Then, I had a second child and love blossomed again in my heart, this time exponentially. Then, a third and a fourth and a fifth child came along, and I experienced this same multiplying of love in my heart with each one. It is interesting to me how this horrible, horrible road of grieving the loss of a child takes me back to the times of giving birth to my children. I’m not sure, but I think it must be the magnitude of the life event that makes it feel like there is a correlation. Birth and death…….from a mother’s perspective. That is not how it should be. His death has stained my life with a dull gray coating that I cannot see past at times. I look at the sunset, one of my favorite things in life, and think of him on the other side of the sky, a spirit now, not trapped in his earthy body, like I am still trapped in mine. I see snow on a cold winter’s day, another one of my favorite things, and remember that he hated the cold and anything related to it, like snow. I see the stately oak tree in our yard and remember sitting on the swing in our backyard with my daughter and watching him climb it like a monkey, just a couple of years ago. Maybe hardest of all is the cloudy days, or worse yet, the rainy days. The day he died was a beautifully crisp sunny autumn day. But everyday, besides that day, of the week between his death and his burial, it rained. In fact, it poured down rain the day we buried him. Every one in our family has a hard time with the cloudy or rainy days now. Death changes life. Our family is like a beautiful tapestry, woven with many varied colors of threads. We don’t all live in the same household anymore, but we are all still intricately woven together as one unit, each of us still a momentous part of each other’s lives. But, one beautifully colorful thread has tragically been removed from the glorious tapestry called “our family” by the divine tapestry Maker. He chose to do something none of us would have chosen for our family; and now we have a hole – a giant gaping hole – in our beautiful tapestry. It hurts. It hurts all the time.
As I write this, I think of Job…..again. I think of his wife telling him to “curse God and die”. I remember his response to his wife and I am seriously challenged; hopeful, but challenged. “He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?'” I am challenged to have, and hopeful that I do have, the same heart attitude toward God as Job did in the midst of his suffering. As heartbroken as I am, as angry as I am, I still believe, and I still put my trust and hope in God. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You (alone) have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68
I still deal with deep sorrow and anger on an almost daily basis. But, I also have days like today, when it is 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I realize I have not cried once yet today! I am thankful for these days. I’m also thankful for the hard days, even though they are long and difficult to get through. I am most blessed, and I know it, and I am very thankful. I am sorrowful and heartbroken, too. But, I know that God heals the brokenhearted. I have pondered the statement describing Job’s response to the sudden and on-going tragedies God allowed Satan to visit upon him, many times over the past 17 months – “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” I have asked myself and my husband more than once if I/we thought I accused God of wrongdoing in my anger over losing my middle son. My own faith answers my question for me – I believe in the sovereignty of God. I believe He, and He alone holds the keys to life and death. Satan has been rendered powerless, as Hebrews 2:14-15 says: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil…” Satan does not have the power to give or take life; that power belongs to God and God alone. Deuteronomy 32:39, says, “See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver from my hand.” Hosea 6:1, says, “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds.” And, how do I keep my faith in a God like this? I know Him; I know He is good. I know He is kind and loving and cares for His creation. I also know “His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways”. And, I know He does what He will, which is not always what I will. It has been suggested to us, more than once, that God did not bring about or allow our son’s death, insinuating that the devil brought it about. I have also been told that my son was simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time”. I’ve patiently listened to these suggestions of caring people trying to offer a solution to a “problem” that has no solutions; I’ve pondered them, searching for truth in them. I find them shaky at best. And, to me, they beg the question, “Why would anyone want a god like that?”. If God was not in control of all of life, how could he be God? If He lacked the power to keep a human being, one of His own creation, from dying, would He be the almighty God, the creator of all creation? In my mind, the answer to that question is a resounding, “NO!” I believe in the all knowing, all powerful, all wise, living God. The ONE true living God. There is no other. He alone sustains life. He alone decides when the time is right for life on this earth to end. And, if I believed that life on this earth was all there is, I would be even more sorrowful and angry! But, I don’t. I believe my son still lives; he lives in eternity now. He will never suffer or lack again. And, I believe I will be with him someday; probably sooner than I know.
The scriptures above have a deeper and dual meaning for me now. Not only do they apply to my son’s life and untimely (for us) death, but they apply to how his death has affected me and my family. I not only believe God was in control when our son’s car accident took his life, but I also believe that God is fully aware of how our son’s death would affect my husband and I, and our family. And, He has a plan for that, too. Not only was our son’s death in His plan, but our suffering over it is in His plan. And, I believe He will somehow be glorified through it all.
We must have an eternal perspective to walk faithfully through this temporary world. And, that is what this world is – temporary. But, our eternity depends on our choices in this temporary world God has placed us in. I choose to believe in and trust in Him……no matter what.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5