I really can't explain how or why our new used van is the "page" that turned this grief journey to a new chapter. I only know that it feels as if I have inexplicably begun a new chapter in our lives. It seems so silly. After all, it's just a van. Yet it's more than that. It's a symbol of something new. It's a sign of closure on a very bad, horrendous, and indescribably painful time in our lives.
Healing on the journey of grief takes an incredible amount of time, far more than those on the outside would expect, and far more than those experiencing it would like. It also takes an inordinate amount of energy. Healing doesn't just happen. It takes concentrated effort, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done.
Moving forward is indescribably difficult, but it is the only choice. The wound must heal, for there is no other option. It will either heal, or it won't. But healing. Healing is not some pretty, neat, quick process. It is ugly, chaotic, long, and excruciating. It's taken me more than 3 years to get to a place where I can finally answer honestly, "I'm good." to those who ask, "How are you?"
For so long, grief is all I've known. However, as GriefShare says, it is an experience, not an identity. Yet it's hard to fathom how it can't be your identity because, as a parent, our children make up so much of our life. They are a part of us. It is a great struggle to reconcile the "before" of our life with our
"after." (The "before," of course, is before your child/ren died, and
the "after" is after the death of your child/ren.) It's unbelievably hard getting to a place where you truly believe that "earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal."(David Crowder - Come As You Are)
I think one of the greatest battles in grief is the battle to believe God and, as a result, to choose better over bitter. This new chapter doesn't negate the loss, the sorrow, or the pain. Instead, it is the product of it. The compost of grief has, finally, begun to birth new life, new growth. I am convinced that healing only happens when we come as we are to God, leaning into our grief, yet relying on Him to do what He says He will do. He will bring beauty from ashes and bind up the brokenhearted. He will be our all in all when we simply come to Him, trusting Him to do the impossible. I still don't understand why He chose to write this chapter of child loss into the story of our family, but I do know that this chapter isn't the end of the story. A new chapter has begun.