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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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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

 
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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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I Gave Up on Him…

I Gave Up on Him…

Grief after the death of a child. Sometimes it is hard to describe our journey. Guy Wolfe has found the words to articulate the thoughts and feelings that bereaved parents can experience. I can relate to much of what he wrote.

Holy Ghost Bumps

alone_man-1440x900 On the way to the park, Emma says to me, “Daddy…I hope there will be other kids there so that I have someone to play with.”  She’ll walk around the house with her dolls in her hands talking to Mia…”If you’ll just come back, Mia, I’ll let you play with my favorite toys and I won’t get mad.”  She comes up to me at random times and asks, “Daddy…can I go out on the porch and talk to Mia?”  Whenever she sees a butterfly, she chases after it calling out, “Mia!  Mia!  Come play with me!”

I was sitting in the living room the other day watching Emma play in the sun room.  She had all her dolls out, and she was playing out each individual role.  They laughed.  They got mad.  They were happy.  I was heartbroken.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  How am I supposed to…

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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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The Lord Gives, the Lord Takes Away

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. (Job 1:20-22)

You may have read or heard about the recent storms and tornadoes that swept through areas of Arkansas. Below is a link to an article about families who experienced loss from those storms. Having a loose connection to the FamilyLife ministry, and because children were involved, we are especially touched by this tragedy.

The Lord Gives, the Lord Takes Away#.U2IiRIXy3zN

 

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Where’s the fire?

How many times have I intended to write a post, only to not find the determination to follow through?  I even started several of them, but could not seem to find the proper words to bring them to completion.  Being frustrated with my lack of passion to write, and wanting freedom from the duty to try to complete my earlier thoughts, I recently cleaned out my “draft” posts and decided to start afresh.  So here we go…

Spring is almost here.  It is the time of year when the earth brings forth new life and we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior.  It is also the time of year when a dark cloud hangs over the anticipation of a particular date – April 18.  It will be almost three years since our beloved Isaac passed on into heaven.  Even after the long cold winter we experienced, it is still difficult to be fully excited about the change in season, at least until we pass that day.

So, how am I?  Well, I wish I had some fire lit under me to tackle my callings in this life (hence the title of this post).  Most days I feel as if I float through life.  The enthusiasm that I had the first and even second year after Isaac’s death, to turn around the experience to help others, has diminished somewhat.  I still want to share with and help others who are grieving after the death of a child, but it is not my driving force and passion.  Everyday life has returned to – well – everyday life.  I go to work, Brenda home schools the children, we gather together in the evening, and we wrap-up our day.  Then we do it all over again.  Were we supposed to return to this hum-drum routine?  Or, rather, should we not be serving our Lord joyfully through the “normalcy” of everyday life (and not considering it “hum-drum”)?  How long do we have to endure this life?

I think there are really only three things that keep me going these days:  God’s word; the unconditional love and support of my wife and children; and my relationships with close family, friends, and brethren in Christ.  The word of God has been my life support.  If there is one positive from this experience, it is that I have learned to cling to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, especially when the world offers other means of false comfort and peace.  I realize that there are things about God that I don’t understand, and I am trying to be OK with that (do I really have a choice?).  I wish I had answers to my big questions.  But if God didn’t give Job the answers to his big questions, then I should be content with the same.

Lately, some annoyances in my life have really been getting under my skin. I have been impatient with others and harbored bitterness over some perceived injustices.  I know the Lord calls me to forgive (up to 490 times right?), but doesn’t that only apply to my “brother” and doesn’t he/she have to apologize first?  You see how I rationalize my anger?  Oh yeah, I can be angry, as long as I don’t sin, right?   Anyway, I’m not liking that stinky attitude coming out of my heart.

I hope you don’t mind me just being honest about where I am spiritually.  We could really use your prayers.  I wish I could share some great spiritual insight and breakthrough with you, but it seems that I’m just wandering through the desert land.

On a lighter note, I did want to share a recent family “selfie” below.  Yes, we do have a new dog.  His name is Stride and he appears to be a collie/German shepherd mix.  He is a little over a year old.  We adopted him near the end of 2013.  We have been challenged to get used to Stride’s energy and personality, but things are improving and we are learning to accept each other.  Our previous family dog, Mikey, died suddenly in early October 2013 while we were away on vacation.  That was a very sad experience for us.  Also, our two cats that Brenda and I had from early in our relationship died within a short time frame.  So, the last half of 2013 was a little rough for us as the older generation of our pets all died within a short period.  For us, losing a pet is not nearly the same experience as losing a child, but it is sad and difficult.

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Well, I think I will actually close a post for now!  If a fire kindles underneath me, maybe I will write a little more often in the future (no promises though).

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Andy

 

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