The tragedies that are raging across our country and within our schools, hospitals and in our homes bring me much sadness for those affected, for those whose lives were lost and those that are left behind to continue life after loss...
Before Matthew passed away, I said far too many times "I couldn't make it through that if that happened to me" or "how will they face tomorrow?" anytime a child passed, someone was seriously ill, fighting disease or life situations that were imminent to end tragically or that had ended unexpected and tragically.
Then the unexpected tragically happened to me and my family. Life halted... stopped... and it has never been the same, never will be.
I write about this today because I have had this conversation with myself, with others and with God. How do we go on after we lose our child? Accidentally, tragically, unexpectedly, illness... whatever the cause... how do we go on?
I don't think we "go on"... I don't think we ever "move on"... I certainly know we "never get over it."
In the ugly face of loss, we become so desperate not to live, but rather to survive... living is far too hard... and as a parent that has buried her child, guilt that we are living and they are not is also a cruel source of fuel to throw into the flames.
We choose survival modes... some cling to Jesus, faith, drugs, alcohol, addictions of any kind that will numb the mind... But we cannot do it alone... We will run to whatever coping mechanism we can because survival instincts come into action.
When someone is drowning, they fight the current, trying to hold their head up, gasping for breath, clinging to anything that may keep their head above water. Even if they don't know how to swim, their bodies go into motion to survive. Instinct.
Drowning in a raging river with rocks, trees and icy waters is how life after loss "looks like" or feels like to me.
There are far too many days that it would be easier to let the current take me...
Truth is, some will never make it out of the current... and those of us that do, will often get thrown back in, because when you suffer the loss of your child, you are always in that river. You never know where the river and the currents will take you. And the current remains long after the river is calm. The current is silent and can take you right back in, anytime, anyplace. Jesus is the only thing in my survival kit that didn't slip out of my hands, that never left. When I couldn't hold on to anything, Jesus held on to me.
I have analyzed this river of 'grief' so much over the last 7 1/2 years. I have lived it. I have shared it. I have despised it. I have walked in it. I have spat at it. I have cussed at it. I have denied it. I have accepted it. I have run away from it. I have embraced it.
I have had people tell me, many people, that they don't know how I have made it... they don't know what they would do if they lost their child.
And this is why I write today.
I didn't know what I would do either. I said I wouldn't make it... I said I couldn't make it... I said I wouldn't want to live if I lost my child... and you know what... some days I still say that! And every day I am in complete awe of God's grace that I am still here...every day.
BUT... I look back and I have made it... it has been the most horrible and tragic times of my life... but I have made it.
I didn't ever live like I used to... I never "moved on" instead I got through one moment at a time, and that is how I still survive today... one moment at a time. I will never "get over it." I never want to. I live now, but I live differently. I live knowing that if I survived the worst day of my entire life, July 23, 2005, when we buried our son, I can survive anything. I live knowing that when tragedy comes, near or far, that God's grace is enough to get anyone through the day, the weeks, the months, the years.
I have survived the years because of my faith in Jesus and knowing that I will see Matthew again. It wasn't my strength that carried me through the days... the months, the years. Certainly, I would have never survived that on my own. I still could not survive on my own. I don't want to try that either.
Some of you may know people who have lost children and they get up and go to work, they may barbecue in the summertime, perhaps even Christmas carol during the holiday season... They may look like life has gone on... but friends, there is a place in their heart that is permanently changed, forever etched in the deepest part of them...life stopped when their child took their last breath. They are in that river.
Do you wonder how life has gone on? Do you wonder how they have been able to live after loss? If so, you are one of many... I know I used to say that all the time.
Oh how my heart hurts so badly for all of you who know loss... and for those that will.
In these days, these tragic times when so many children died at the hands of evil, do you find yourself asking how will they go on? How could they go on?
Life after loss becomes about survival, not about living. We will cling to whatever we can to breathe... for as long as we can, until we physically cannot fight any longer. Some will sustain it, some tragically won't. This is the brutal face of grief.
Life has forever been stripped away from so many. Those left behind holding the shattered pieces of what life once was, should be and will never be again, have been thrown out of the raft into that icy river where the current is raging. They will not live the way they used to. Ever.
Everything is different. Everything. The water is not "just fine."
Life after loss becomes about survival, not about living.
You never know when tragedy will affect your family, I pray that it never does. I also know that even though you may say you could never make it through something, that with God you can make it through anything. I believe that. I live it every day.
There is great hope in clinging to Jesus... We cannot do it on our own when tragedy hits.
I pray all of these precious people will find the hope in Christ that will give them peace that surpasses all understanding... I pray that in theses times of such sorrow and survival that love, encouragement, peace and comfort will be the lifesavers in that raging river with them... Jesus has never left the river that I am in... from the still waters to the raging current, He has always been there and I know He always will be. I know He is there with them too.
That is what I will think upon in the days to come...
Thank you Jesus for being with these families and for holding all of our children until the day we can hold them again.
Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.