My heart hurts this morning. No rhyme or reason to these twists and turns of the grief roller coaster. This morning, it is pictures that set my heart vibrating with pain. I wonder if I will always look at pictures and think, "We're not all there." Then I wonder, "Am I the only one that notices?" To those on the outside, do they know that my son is gone? Of course not. To others, we look whole. They have no idea that one of my children is missing.
Friends' FB posts of their family photos, wedding occasions, graduations, and other momentous events are blaring reminders that our family memories will never, ever again be complete. It is a unique hurt. I certainly do not begrudge others those precious moments, and I must remember, too, that I was blessed to have sixteen years of memories together. Yet, who wouldn't wish for more?
In these moments when the pain flares up, I lament honestly to the LORD and take refuge in Him. I am so thankful for the book of Psalms because it reveals a true picture of how we are to respond and what we are to do with our pain. God invites us to be real with Him, to turn to Him when the pain is unbearable. I have said before that losing a child is like becoming an amputee, and last night I came across this quote by C.S. Lewis in which he expresses the same sentiment.
“Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the
patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one
thing; after he’s had his leg off is quite another. After that
operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals,
the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his
strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over
it.’ But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his
life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged
man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing,
dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all
be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of
pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be
simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about
on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I
shall never be a biped again.”
A Grief Observed
This second year of grieving is so very different from the first. The
first year is, in a word, horrifying. Losing a child suddenly without warning is, again, like experiencing an amputation. Christopher Moore says, “There's a fine edge to new grief, it severs nerves, disconnects
reality--there's mercy in a sharp blade. Only with time, as the edge
wears, does the real ache begin.”
I think it's a fitting description of the second year of the grief journey. Now the reality of the severed limb has set in and the difficult work of rehabilitation is a conscious, daily effort. There are assuredly days of physical therapy that go better than others, days in which the recovery doesn't seem quite as much of a struggle. Finding the strength to do the work is exhausting at best. Unfortunately, the "bad" days simply leave one discouraged, hopeless, and utterly without strength or motivation to go on, "...but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ", it is possible to get through them. (1 Cor. 15:57) "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:21-25)