Angry at God
Bereaved parents become experts on all things grief soon after the death of a child. We research. We read articles, talk to doctors and therapists. And we constantly self-assess, trying to figure out which of the five stages of grief we are in and how long before we get to the next one. We find facebook groups with other suffering parents and silently compare pain, wondering to ourselves, “Am I that bad?” or “How can she be doing that well so soon?” We gather information from all kinds of sources, desperately trying to piece together a new normal. Desperately trying to survive.
Still, through all of these different platforms and channels, something is missing. Our spirits remain crushed and our hearts still broken. No amount of knowledge or information mends this thing inside of us longing to be comforted.
It has been over a decade since my son died, and it took me this long to figure out that I wasn’t going to educate myself through this pain. I couldn’t self-care my way out of this. The emotional plague of losing a child is of Biblical proportion and is spiritual in nature, yet we rarely talk about that aspect of grief- the spiritual one.
Faith is Challenged
We can’t talk about God or faith in the workplace, on social media or sometimes even in our own families. It has been my experience that finding a therapist who will entertain a conversation about your broken spirit without talking about your childhood wounds or trying to medicate you is rare. Our real dilemma, as bereaved parents, is that everything we thought we understood about God and our faith, has been turned upside down.
What we believed to be the natural order of things (parents die first, not the other way around) means nothing anymore. The God we knew doesn’t exist as once before. We are not sure what to believe, what to think or how to feel. All we see is pain. Questions about the meaning of life bring on more questions about purpose and how we are supposed to get through the rest of our time here on earth in such misery.
We start thinking deeply about heaven and hell and contemplating where our child is now. Many of us believe our child has gone to heaven yet never explore what that idea actually means.
Renewing My Relationship with God
In my own life, I have always believed in heaven but I never read the Bible. I went to church as a kid but not as an adult. I knew how to pray the Catholic prayers I memorized in second grade, but I didn’t know how to have a relationship with God. When my son died, whatever little understanding I had of religion, or God as a whole, was lost. I grew angry with God and even with other Christians. I was angry at a Bible I had never even read and a God I didn’t even know.
Ten years after my son’s death all of that changed. It dawned on me, one day, that if I really believed in my heart that my son was in heaven, that I needed to figure out how to get there. Being a “good person” just wasn’t cutting it. I needed specifics, details, answers.
Nothing healed my heart like finding my faith again. I encourage you to dust off your Bible and start looking to the Source of your spirit to repair it. The beautiful thing about God is nothing is too big for Him to handle. He wants you to bring all your anger, confusion, bitterness and sorrow to Him so he can walk you through it. And he knows you are angry with him. He knows.
During the pandemic I dove deep into the Bible. I wanted to see what it said about grief, child loss and most importantly, heaven. It took me two years to read all the way through it from cover to cover, which was a small amount of time compared to how long I had suffered. Much of it I didn’t understand but I kept on.
I found a church that wrapped its arms around me and a pastor and his wife who loved me through my pain. They answered questions that I didn’t understand and demonstrated, through compassion, what a deep and genuine faith in God can do in someone’s heart. The stories in the Bible came to life for me once I met other people who could help me understand them. I found so many incredibly relatable stories where people had suffered child loss literally since time began.
These soothed me in a way nothing else could. I felt comforted knowing that as hard as it is to accept, my son dying was also a part of life.
Bible is Handbook for Grief
If you have questioned your belief system you are not alone. Conversations about faith are the hardest ones to have because they are the most important. Finding your path to heaven through your faith will unlock the door to your healing. Avoiding your relationship with God may be the thing that is holding you back and keeping you stuck in your pain.
Consider that the One who made you is the one who holds your child now. The One who holds the map to your healing. The One who knows how to get you to heaven, too. Often professionals will say there is no handbook for bereaved parents, but I disagree. There is one book that can walk you through it all and help you find peace and purpose in your pain.
My prayer for you is that if you are reading this article, you’ll know it was not by chance or coincidence, but divine alignment with your higher power. I encourage you to begin working on your spirit and watch how things start shifting. If the thought of this scares you, it’s probably a good time to start.
Read more from Shannon: What Prison Inmates Taught Me about Drug Addicts – Open to Hope