My middle child passed away unexpectedly, tragically and suddenly 4 years ago today. If you read my blog, you know this. I was traumatized that day, and have dealt with many issues caused by the trauma of that day, since. To say that I am heartbroken is an understatement, and probably unnecessary to be spoken again.
In the midst of the trauma, heartbreak, anxiety and fear, I have tried my best to continue to be thankful to my God for all that He is and has done in my life and the lives of my family. Today I’m sharing some of the things for which I’m very thankful, and some of the lessons I’ve been learning over the past 4 years.
Things I’m thankful for:
First and foremost I’m thankful to God for God! He has been patient, kind, loving and near to me, just as He promised He would be, even when I have been so angry at Him I want to shake my fist toward heaven and curse Him. He, just as He promised, has never left me or forsaken me. He is near to me, His brokenhearted daughter. And He has kept my foot from slipping and plunging headlong into the abyss of doubt and unbelief more times than I can count.
I’m so thankful to my husband of almost 38 years, I cannot really even begin to express it. He has been my rock these past 4 years. Even in the midst of his own suffering and sorrow, he has held me up, never denying me the right to fully express my feelings, whether they be anger, sorrow, frustration, exasperation, happiness, or more likely – a dizzying combination of all that at the same time. I thank him almost every day for all that he is and has been to me and our family. He is a gem – or, more accurately – he is a wonderful expression of the love of God. A sweet lady sent me a note recently and said what I have thought for many decades, but especially since the loss of our middle child – he has loved me like Christ loves the church.
I’m thankful to my 4 children who still walk this earth with me. They are the delight of my life, and bring me joy beyond description. They have turned out to be some of the most amazing people I know. I thank God for them, and will for the rest of my life.
I’m thankful for the 25 years God allowed me to spend with my 3rd born child, my middle son – 2nd of 3 sons – brother to his beautiful 2 sisters and brother-in-law, and uncle to 4 precious blessings. I wish with all my being that he would have been here until I am no longer here. But that was not God’s plan and I thank Him that He is all-knowing, all-wise and all-loving, and I can trust Him.
I’m thankful to all the family and friends who have stood by me, walked this road with me, listened to me, cried with me, prayed for me and helped me keep on keeping on, even when I want to lie down and never get up again.
My parents have listened to me more than anyone but my husband, over the past 4 years, and I can’t thank them enough. Many times, when I felt I couldn’t go on, I’d find myself at their house, coming through the door already in tears, and they would drop whatever they were doing and sit and listen to me pour out my hurt, anger and disappointment, never judging or insisting I try to “get over it”.
God has blessed me with 3 amazing girlfriends who have faithfully walked this awful road with me, listening to me til their ears are burning, I’m sure! I love them all dearly, and don’t know what I’d do without them.
I’m so thankful for my pastor and my church family who have been a beautiful expression of God’s love to me every Sunday I’ve been able to attend church:) I love them all more than I can say.
I’m thankful for 3 professionals God put in our lives to help us through the most trying time of our lives.
First to come to mind is our doctor of 25 years – the most wise, knowledgeable, humble, compassionate and godly professional I’ve ever come across. We love him! He has provided our family with excellent health care for the past two-and-a-half decades, and has listened to and counseled us for these past 4 years of intense grief and sorrow. He has been a blessing to our family and we are so thankful for him.
Secondly – an amazing counselor who has taught us the oh-so-necessary ways of dealing with PTSD, life after a traumatic loss, grief, anger, sorrow, past hurts, forgiveness, acceptance, shaky faith, letting go, holding on, continuing to live, and so much more. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for this wonderful, godly man.
And last, but not least – the lawyer we hired shortly after our son passed away to help us deal with the legal aspects that arise when a young-adult, unmarried son passes away without a will in place. He went above and beyond what is expected of legal counsel, patiently listening to me on the phone and responding to my emails, without (much) complaint. The help he worked so hard to provide in the midst of such heartbreak and trauma is greatly appreciated.
Things I’m learning:
It can, and does, hurt worse. It doesn’t matter how much time passes – he is still my child, and I still wish, with everything in me, that he hadn’t died so young. I still have hopes and dreams, wishes and prayers, for him that will remain unfulfilled for my entire lifetime.
I can continue to believe in God, despite my unanswered questions; questions that may never have an answer – in this life, or in the life to come.
I can hold onto hope, even when all seems hopeless, because Jesus is my hope.
Recently I’ve begun to believe that I might still have a future here on earth, and I’m almost accepting and happy about that fact. Almost.
Probably the hardest lesson I’m having to learn is that I can genuinely love and forgive without being in relationship with someone.
Another hard one for me is that it is okay if the only thing I manage to do on any given day is get through it. My youngest gave me the plaque in this picture a couple of years ago, and it hangs in my office right above my computer monitor, along with the two quotes beneath it. I read them all nearly every day.
God is still good. And He is still love. And He still loves me and mine, and always will. He is faithful, even when I am not faithful. And He is always worthy of all praise and glory and honor.
And because He is still love and still good, I can put my trust in Him and cling to Him when this bumpy road is more than I can bear, and also when my life is sailing along, unhurried and unworried.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14: 1-3 and 27
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus in John 16:33