Monday, January 28, 2013

18 months

18 months. Only 18 months. Already 18 months. 18 months on this roller coaster of grief. 18 months of a sorrow indescribable. 18 months of fighting to believe the truth of God's word. 18 months of tears. 18 months of God's faithfulness and comfort. We'll be throwing eggs tomorrow. Weeping in my Father's arms.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Silent presence

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

The journey of grief isn't a fixed highway with predictable twists and turns, nor are the valleys and mountains discernible from the traveler's viewpoint. All the traveler sees is the hard, unrelenting road of sorrow. Grief darkens his view of the sky. Eventually, however, he begins to see glimmers of light. And though he could not see the Lord for the dark, He was there all along. After all, it is the Lord who has helped him, carried him, guided him, and whispered truth to him since the beginning.

It's been a good week for me. I never thought I'd say that again. (Of course, my definition of good has also changed since losing Matt, too.) Unfortunately, it hasn't been a good week for my husband. He came to bed last night and wept beside me. It's so very hard to hear your husband crying from the depths of his heart. He's a strong man, almost always cheerful and positive, but he misses his boy. It's somewhat strange now in that we aren't both crying on the same day much any more. At first, it was always like that. Not so much now. I can see how others feel, wanting to help, yet feeling helpless to take away your pain. It's hard. However, I've learned that one's silent presence is tremendously comforting. 

Additionally, I've learned from grief, too, that people will disappoint you. They will fail you. I will fail people (and have). I will disappoint people (and have). But GOD never fails. He never gives up. He never leaves us. One thing remains...the Lord's love for us.

I know it was no mistake, either, when I finally got around to reading my devotional today from Streams in the Desert. Just at the right time, even if my timetable doesn't line up. He is there, a silent presence.


Sunday, January 20, 2013


Grief is a cruel companion. There are continual reminders of our loss, and it is these reminders with which I struggle. Reminders like reading blogs of moms who are sending their sons off into the world. Or reading about how just yesterday their son was born and now their boy is a young man leaving home. There are reminders of Senior year activities such as dances, yearbook pictures, and graduation planning. I still catch myself at times thinking, "This can't be real. Surely this isn't reality." and "This has to be some sort of horrendous nightmare." Thinking about the things that will never be, however, leads to the depths of despair. It is a surefire way to end up back in the pit of the lion's den. I.can.not.go.there.

But neither can I ignore the facts. A bereaved parent is, as I see it, much like a paraplegic wheeling into a room full of able-bodied people. Try as hard as people want, the paraplegic included, they can't ignore the wheelchair or wish it away. It's a reality. Same as the death of my child.

The reminders are what make grief a constant balancing act. It's a precarious teeter-totter that falters between grief as my identity and grief as my experience. My son died. How does that not affect who I am? And how can one simply say that the death of their child was an "experience?" I get that grief cannot be one's identity, that to be "stuck" in grief is not good. I understand and know that one can not allow their child's death to be their death, the end of their life. One cannot allow grief to paralyze them, yet, in a sense, that is how grief leaves you, as a paralytic. The death of one's child is the wheelchair in which a bereaved parent must now navigate their life.

It is perplexing, is it not? It makes me think of the apostle Paul when he says, "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;...(2Cor.4:8-9) I am startled at times even when I look back and realize I have survived. And I wonder how I have, yet I already know the answer. It is God. He has sustained me, comforted me, carried me (and my family).  "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)  The LORD does all this, but it is up to me to make a conscious choice when grief throws these loss reminders at me to choose to trust God, to remember His character, and to keep His promises at the forefront of my mind. It isn't necessarily easy to do, but it is what honors God and allows healing to come. 


Sunday, January 6, 2013

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

Kelly Clarkson has a song titled, "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger." I'm not particularly a fan of her's, but the song title made me stop and think. The sudden, unexpected death of my son sure made me feel as if I'd been killed, that a part of me had died. Then there were days where I wish I had died. Another song titled "Stronger" by Mandisa also has the same theme of survival.

Music is so powerful, and it's been incredibly instrumental in our healing. Especially Christian music where the lyrics remind me of God's character and of the truth of His Word. Honestly, however, a year ago when I would hear the lyrics of Stronger, I would think to myself, "I don't want to be stronger. I just want my son back."

Mandisa - Stronger
Hey, heard you were up all night
Thinking about how your world ain't right
And you wonder if things will ever get better
And you're asking why is it always raining on you
When all you want is just a little good news
Instead of standing there stuck out in the weather

Oh, don't hang your head
It's gonna end
God's right there
Even if it's hard to see Him
I promise you that He still cares

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
And things can only get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger
Gonna make you stronger, stronger, stronger
Believe me, this is gonna make you ...

Try and do the best you can
Hold on and let Him hold your hand
And go on and fall into the arms of Jesus
Oh, lift your head it's gonna end
God's right there
Even when you just can't feel Him
I promise you that He still cares

'Cause if He started this work in your life
He will be faithful to complete it
If only you believe it
He knows how much it hurts
And I'm sure that He's gonna help you get through this

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
In time it's gonna get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger

I don't feel stronger, but bit by bit, I've been noticing progress in teeny, tiny areas. I can look at Matt's picture now, if only for 15-20 seconds and it doesn't result in a trip to the pit. I'm also finding myself agreeing to some song lyrics when I thought I never would. Funny as how I'm not a fan, either, of artist Pink, but I heard her song "Try" (Thanks to David, our Brazilian exchange student....'cause I don't listen to secular music and would never have heard of it otherwise) and realized I was agreeing with her.

Pink - Try (partial lyrics)
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean you're gonna die
You've gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try

There are other things, too, that have suggested healing. For example, though it still stings to hear certain comments, the sting doesn't seem to go as deep or last as long. I think I'm getting a bit stronger. Not feeling very confident, but it's a start.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I read this blog post today. It was powerful and eye-opening. I mulled about it for a while after reading it and came to the conclusion that I've had some wrong thinking. Wrong about time moving forward and how it relates to grieving. For me, it isn't a matter of stepping into the new year after having tripped messy through the last, to paraphrase Ann Voskamp. It's about reframing my thinking of another year without my son.

You see, with each passing day of 2012 I felt that every day was just one more further and further away from my son. I know that may not seem rational, but for those who have lost a child, you get what I'm saying. In a sense, the closer we are to the day our child died, the closer we are to our child. In a strange way, we think staying close to our grief will keep us close to our loved one. Because that day was the last day they were alive. And who doesn't want to be with the living? Who wants to identify with the dead? Certainly not a bereaved parent. The absolute last thing you want to tell someone is that you have a child, but they died.

Voskamp's post, however, helped me to realize the truth. The truth is this. That moving forward isn't taking me further away from Matt. In fact, it's doing quite the opposite. Every day forward is one step closer on my own journey home and the reunion awaiting me of all my loved ones who trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

But grief has a way of putting his fingers over your eyes, obscuring the path, doing his best to lead you astray. And though grief is our companion along the way, he is not to be trusted. There is only one guide we can trust, and that is God. God peeled away grief's fingers and showed me that going forward was o.k.

He showed me that I needed to reframe. As Ramon Presson states, "Psychologists often speak of reframing--the ability to look at an issue or a problem from another perspective, especially a perspective that is more accurate, more complete, or more positive." (p.47 of When Will My Life Not Suck) For me, to reframe means that I need to think about Matt. Not about the loss of Matt.

Much like Voskamp's daughter not wanting to play her recital piece, I didn't want to play the piece given me, either. The score of a bereaved parent. Yet the Teacher patiently instructs and waits. He knows that music will come if the student will only look forward and play the next bar. Trusting the Teacher.