My family and I are 20 months into this journey of grief over the loss of our son and brother, and I have to agree with the authors of the books on grief I’ve read, and the counselors I’ve consulted, that the second year is harder than the first. He is really and truly gone from this earth forever; his natural life snuffed out at the age of 25. The reality of this fact is unbearable. The grief is so deep and painful I find it hard to breathe sometimes. I miss him terribly. I miss my family being whole and happy. I miss the carefree faces of my children, and their happy chatter when we are all together. Of course there is still happiness in our family; the loss of my middle son doesn’t diminish the joy my other children bring to my heart. But, the pain caused by the loss is constant, whether the joy is there or not. Someone recently reminded me that I have four other children and four grandchildren to be thankful for, insinuating that the joy they bring to my life should make up for the loss of the one. I felt like saying, hold up your hand with your five fingers extended and allow me to chop off the middle finger at your palm. Do you think your other four fingers will squeeze together and fill the hole left by your middle finger, and you won’t notice the missing finger? No, it doesn’t work that way. There will always be a hole left by my middle son’s passing.
Since shortly after our son passed away, I’ve been aware of a persistent dichotomy going on in my being. It is confusing, at best, and relentlessly exhausting, at worst. I sometimes hate it, but other times cling to it. I’m speaking of the dichotomy of feelings and faith. I have never experienced such a contrast in myself between the natural and the spiritual, or you could say, the flesh and the spirit. I’ve always been a very spiritual person, leaning so heavily that way I’ve often wondered if I was, like the old saying goes, “too spiritually minded to be any earthly good”. I’m sure I’m not really, as I managed to raise five children, and I keep our household running smoothly, for the most part. But, I do tend to be very spiritually minded, sensing the presence of our Creator in such mundane things as the breeze on a warm sunny day, and a blade of grass blowing in that breeze.
This constant dichotomy between feeling utterly heartbroken and despairing of life because one of my children has died, and being hopeful and full of the assurance that he still lives, albeit in a place I can’t get to until my own death, is, like I said – confusing at best, and relentlessly exhausting, at worst. It’s like living inside a push-me pull-me, a two-headed creature that never knows which direction it needs to go. There have been times when I have wished I didn’t have faith, because it seems to make grieving so confusing and difficult. But, there have been many more times my faith was all I could hold onto to keep myself from plunging into a pit of despair I’d never be able to pull myself out of. I frequently forget what I believe, and come across something that brings me back to “the Rock that is higher than I”, so as an exercise of my faith today I’m sharing some of these persistent pesky feelings along with some very trustworthy truths to help solidify them in my thinking by seeing the contrast in black and white…..or, more precisely – blue and purple.
I feel like I am alone on this walk of grief.
“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Ps. 34:18
There is no one who can help me carry this burden of grief.
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation.” Psalms 68:19
I fear I will die of a broken heart.
“He has sent me (the Lord) to bind up the brokenhearted.” Isaiah 61:1 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their sorrows.” Psalms 147:3
I fear I will lose my faith.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29
“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, And, the Lord has forgotten me.’ “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49:14-16
I feel sometimes like I will lose my mind.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” Isaiah 26:3
I fear my children will lose their faith.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who keep His covenant And remember his precepts to do them.” Psalms 103:17-18
This all boils down to what has been my “life verse”, as I’ve heard some Christians call it – the passage of scripture I have put my faith, hope and trust in most of my adult life:
“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.”
“In all your ways acknowledge Him….”. I remember thinking this very soon after we got the news that our son had died in a car accident. In all my ways I must acknowledge Him. ALL my ways. This is a “way” God has allowed in my life. I will acknowledge Him in it; I must acknowledge Him in it – I’ve sensed His presence, comfort and assurance throughout the entire way. Sometimes I’ve been so angry I don’t want to sense His presence, but He has been with me through it all, patiently and faithfully wooing me back to Himself.
Besides, if I can’t trust in God, who can I trust in? Certainly not myself, I’ve proven that to myself and others many, many times. Not my husband (even if he is the best man God ever created:). Not parents or children, ministers or priests, friends, professionals, or anyone else. God alone is my help and my hope; and He alone has the words of eternal life.
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness……..Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.” Psalm 33:18-22
“For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are he who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You.” Psalm 71:5-6
“As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.'” John 6:66-69
In all my ways, I acknowledge You, O Lord. You alone are my strength and shield. You hold me and my family in the palm of Your hand, and You will never leave us or forsake us. We can trust in You. Amen.