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Category Archives: Grief

Five Years

April 18.  This year, 2016, it will mark five years since Isaac’s death.  There is a popular saying that “time heals all wounds.”  I don’t agree with that statement, but I do believe that time provides perspective.

The first anniversaries of Isaac’s death were difficult to endure.  The first year we felt a need to get away for the day and try to focus on something else.  The second year was a much more quiet remembrance.  I really don’t remember the third and fourth anniversaries.

So why does this year feel different?  Maybe because five years marks a significant milestone in other aspects of our lives (i.e. marriage, employment).  Maybe because this year April 18 will once again land on a Monday, the same day of the week that it was in 2011.  I’m not sure which of these it is, or perhaps for some other reason, but this year the anticipation is slightly haunting me.

I mentioned earlier that I believe time provides perspective.   One way this is true for me is that the intensity of pain from losing a child has lessened.  The first year or two was just so difficult and painful, with so many thoughts and events triggering intense emotional responses.  As we have forged a new groove for our lives, we don’t carry the heavy burden of that pain or get lost in the cloud of grief.  We can remember good times with smiling and laughter and not focus so much on the events on and immediately after April 18, 2011.  We can focus on the eternal truths in God’s Word and look forward to when we will see Isaac again.

By God’s grace, we have moved forward with our lives.  We haven’t moved “on”, as if whatever happened before didn’t matter.  But we have chosen not to remain frozen in the past, where we could play out the “what if” scenarios in our minds (though this is tempting at times, but quite unfruitful).  Moving forward to us means that we still remember (how could we forget?).  We laugh, play, and work, while rejoicing in all these things.

Yet, while moving forward and rejoicing, there is a piece of my heart that is missing.  I am not always consciously aware of it, yet I feel that it is gone.  I can feel the void that Isaac’s passing has left.  It is difficult for me to describe that feeling.  I just feel like I am not an entire person.  The best physical analogy that I can think of is if one is missing a body part that they once had (which I’ve never experienced, so forgive me for taking the liberty of this analogy).  While I see (physical) and know (mental) that Isaac is not here, in my heart (spiritual) he is still with me.   These conflicting aspects of my being make me wonder if I am something less than a full person.

I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.  It is only through my faith in our loving, merciful, and just God that I can even stand where I am today.  I believe that Isaac is safe in His hands and I hold fast to the hope of seeing him again someday soon.  Yet because Isaac is there in Heaven and I am here on Earth, a part of me is missing.

May you be blessed this day and rest in the eternal hope we have through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Andy

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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Some Measure of Normalcy

April 18.  It used to be that date would stare back at us from the calendar, taunting us with the memories associated with it.  Now it seems to sneak up on us.

Four years.  It is almost unbelievable that is has been that long (or that short) since April 18, 2011.  Sometimes, that day seems so near – the intensity of the emotions and the tragedy of the events so mark our souls that we can hardly escape them.  Yet, in some ways we have become so accustomed to our “new normal” that it seems so long ago that our dear son left our family.

Isaac.  The mention of that name pierces my heart, no matter where or when I see or hear it.  When that piercing comes, I try to smile and remember all the laughter and joy that he brought to my life and the lives that he touched.  It is my way to deal with the grief that is always with me, so that I don’t live in the darkness that so often accompanies it.

This year we don’t really feel like commemorating the day in some “special” way.  We really want to make it as “normal” of a day as possible, Lord willing.  Our weather forecasters are anticipating a beautiful day.  We have some garden and yard work to tend to, which we can tackle together as a family.  The children asked if we could tent outside on Friday night.  Oh, how I crave to be snuggled in my warm, comfortable bed.  However, Lord willing and weather permitting, we are planning to pitch the tent and bundle up under the stars tonight!  I guess this is our way of trying to redeem the time, keeping to our family and blog motto.

Is this a sign of healing, wanting to experience a “normal” day on the anniversary of the most tragic event in one’s life?  I don’t know, but it feels like a step in a positive direction.  Even so, I can feel the tears swelling just below the surface of my flesh, overflowing from that eternal hole in my heart left there by the passing of Isaac.

Today, I pray for those who are missing their loved ones.  I especially pray for those who are missing Isaac, that special boy whose contagious laughter and energy brought happiness to most everyone who knew him.

(I love you buddy and miss you so very much.  Love, Dad)

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Blessings,

Andy

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2015 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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You are not alone

Some people very close to us are going through a very difficult time.  When we heard this song today, we could not stop thinking about and groaning for them.

This song is for them/you.  Please remember that you are not alone.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Mat 28:18-20, emphasis mine)

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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Seeing things differently

Today Brenda continues to write about her journey after the sudden death of our son Isaac in April 2011.

Where am I now?

As I reflect on the last several years after Isaac was promoted to Heaven, I have changed.  I am not the Brenda I was before.  I see things differently.  I am looking through a different lens.  One thing I can now see after several years is how the Lord provided for me:

  • Providing help from a neighbor
  • Providing hospital workers who all prayed together surrounding us
  • Providing rainbows in the sky to let me know that He was still there and a double rainbow on the first-year anniversary date of Isaac’s promotion
  • Providing mourning doves to let me know that He still heard me
  • Providing finances, even from people we never met
  • Providing a loving and supportive family
  • Providing food
  • Providing time off from work for Andy
  • Providing the many cards, emails, and flowers even from people we never met
  • Providing friends that would just listen
  • Providing churches that were willing to reach out to us
  • Providing a sister who was willing to come and stay with us
  • Providing uplifting and encouraging words
  • Providing friendships with those who have experienced the loss of a loved one
  • Providing a local GriefShare support group
  • Providing understanding and helpful neighbors
  • Providing those who would pray for us

Those are just some of the things I can reflect on and know that the Lord was with us during our time of need.

I did not always see this.  The first year and a half was the absolute hardest of anything I have ever experienced in my life.  But, the fog started lifting and I could “see”.  I began slowly to see and hear the birds sing again.  I could see the beautiful colors the Lord has provided for us to admire.  I could see and hear and experience laughter again.  But most of all, I could see how blessed I am with the family I have.

Do I still struggle and have bad days?  Yes.  Triggers that come from nowhere may send me for a loop, but I do not stay “there” as long.

(2Co 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

This verse was key for me to remember to turn off my negative switch and turn on my positive switch.  I give thanks to the Lord for all that He has provided.  I have to choose to do this and I choose not to think upon those things such as:

  • What people may have said to me that hurt
  • Cards or emails I didn’t receive and thought I should have
  • or…fill in the blank with any other negative thought.

There is grace and forgiveness.  I never experienced anything like this before and most other people have not.  Many do not understand and are not trying to intentionally be mean.  I didn’t understand either.  The Lord has helped me to see this.  He gives me grace and lots of it; therefore, I should also extend grace to those around me.

Do I still grieve?  Yes.  Will I always grieve?  Yes.  However, as I look back, I can now see things that I couldn’t see when I was clouded by grief – the Lord was still with me.

Blessings,

Brenda

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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Grieving with hope…a mother’s perspective

I miss Isaac.  I miss him so very much.

I miss his creations.

I miss him waking up and dragging the laundry bag down the stairs faithfully every day.

I miss him trying to occupy David.

I miss him playing with children of all ages……he loved children and could occupy them so well.

I miss him wearing shorts in the winter.

I miss him dressing up as a cowboy or a soldier or a combination.

I miss him utilizing items for other purposes, like a bathrobe for a civil war coat, a basketball hoop set up for a cannon, and others.

I miss him wearing either a civil war or cowboy hat or a handkerchief on a regular basis.

I miss his interest in history, one of my favorite subjects.

I miss him fighting me for salt and vinegar chips, mashed potatoes, and other foods that we both enjoyed together.

I miss his fluffy hair when it would grow out.

I miss his hand holding mine when we would pray.

I miss his hugs.

I miss him fussing at the children for slopping while they ate.

I miss his ability to see right from wrong.

I miss him saying out loud what I was thinking.

I miss him sitting beside Andy in the church pew, flipping his Bible pages, following along to our pastor’s sermon.

I miss him pretending he was our pastor and holding church service in our front room.

I miss his heart for others.  For example, giving his beloved Thomas battery operated train to some other boys to bless them like he was blessed, giving of all his money he had saved to Mission India’s Bible clubs with no hesitation, drawing or coloring pictures for others, giving his money to our new pastor and his wife when they visited, and many other examples too.

I miss his smile and his laughter.

I miss being his mom and teacher.

But most of all,

I. Just. Miss. Him.

I love my boy and will forever miss him, but there is good news and hope.   You see, Isaac had a childlike faith that Jesus Christ was God’s son that He was sent to die on the cross for his sins, past, present, and future.  Praise the Lord for God’s provision for us so that we may see our loved ones that were promoted to heaven.  All we have to do is believe this too, a free gift from God!  We do not need to do anything, just believe!  I miss Isaac terribly, but my hope is that I will see him again and, for now, I hold dearly to that!  May you experience that hope too!

A grieving mom with hope,

Brenda

 
16 Comments

Posted by on January 24, 2015 in Grief

 

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Bent Over, Broken, and Uprooted

IMG_20140714_193107

Last week, a severe thunderstorm swept through our valley.  The storm came quickly and its fierceness was unexpected.  The wind was strong and the rain was heavy.  After the storm, we assessed the damage.  Several trees in the neighborhood were either bent over, broken, or uprooted.

Bent over

Bent over

Broken

Broken

Uprooted (well, almost - but bear with me!)

Uprooted (well, almost – but bear with me!)

Such are the storms of life.  Sometimes, an unexpected tragedy hits us out of nowhere.  Spiritually speaking, the storm can either leave us bent over, broken, or uprooted.

  • Bent Over – We are doubled over in emotional pain and spiritual exhaustion.  We can barely stand on our own two feet and need to lean upon someone or something to get us through.  We may even be on our hands and knees.  Hopefully, when we are in this posture, we turn our hearts in prayer to our Heavenly Father who loves us.
  • Broken – We are more than bent over but not quite uprooted.  Something in our midst was weak that allowed the storm to break us in pieces.   A bit of us is still standing, but our shape is marred.  Further pruning may be required to salvage the remaining stump and encourage new growth.
  • Uprooted – Our roots were not strong or deep enough to allow us to withstand through the storm.  Our life’s foundation has been totally destroyed.  What is left of us can only be cut up and burned in the fire.  We must plant new life and allow it to grow.

This analogy has caused me to think about my own spiritual walk and how the storm of Isaac’s death has affected my life.  I don’t think I was uprooted because my spiritual roots were in Jesus Christ and they still are.  I was more than bent over, which left me feeling broken.  I still feel as through some of my broken pieces need to be cleaned up, even as new growth has sprouted out of my remaining “stump”.  Lord, will you help me to feel whole again?

If you have experienced an intense storm in your life, in which of these three positions has it left you?

Blessings,

Andy

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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Beware the Frozen Heart

Yes, the title of this post was borrowed from a recently popular animated movie.

And yes, we have watched the movie “Frozen” (gasp!).

Why the “gasp!”?, you may ask.  Well, there is some controversy about the message of and some scenes in the movie “Frozen”.  I suppose that, if you watch the movie while holding a particular worldview, you could read into it whatever you wanted.  What I took away from the movie was a warning about the dangers of and the cure for a frozen heart.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil too much for you.  One character, Elsa, has secret powers that she attempts to conceal.  In her attempts, she not only harms herself but has a negative impact on her relationships and the world around her.  When she finally decides to “let it go“, thinking she will find freedom, she instead descends further into fear and isolation.  As her sister Anna tries to rescue her, she learns the secret to breaking the “eternal winter” spell:

Only an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart.

As we watched the climatic scenes of the movie, these words of Jesus Christ came to mind:

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (Joh 15:12-13)

I don’t believe that Disney would intentionally put forth an overtly Christian message.  However, from my worldview, I can choose to see the good message that this movie presents.

What greater love was ever demonstrated than Jesus dying on the cross to free us from the “eternal winter” in our souls due to sin?  His one act of true love, and sending the Holy Spirit into those who put all of their faith and trust in Him, will melt away the iciness of sin and isolation and bring an overwhelming warmth into our hearts.  We will be truly free, instead of further isolated and in bondage to fear.

Why did this theme speak to me?  Because with grief, there is a danger of developing a frozen heart.  In our pain, we tend to isolate ourselves and not be open about how we truly are.  We want others to think that we are “OK” so that we can avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation.  But instead of making the situation better, and allowing the opportunity for some healing and love (not only for ourselves but for the others who are trying to help), we create an icy emotional environment.  When we lay down our desire for self-preservation and reach out in love, even serving others and considering their interests as more important than ours (laying down our life), then we free ourselves from the bondage of our frozen heart.

Again, this is just our personal view.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2014 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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