I remember after the death of our son in 2011, how disconnected I felt that first year. Things I once enjoyed, even special relationships, I was unable to maintain. It wasn’t that I had stopped caring, never that, but the energy involved in even writing a simple letter was too much for me.
I was somehow immobilized, and daily tasks took my strength to perform them. Sleep was erratic, and there were vivid dreams of Aaron that would awaken me to painful reality. Each morning was a fresh remembrance of this sorrow I would have the rest of my life.
Mornings used to be my best part of the day, when I would arise early as usual with a song in my heart eager for what the day might hold. Now I found myself praying to God for the ability to function, to hold it all together.
To an observer, one might conclude I had “ gotten over it.” I didn’t cry much in public, except at unexpected places, and then it was uncomfortably in the presence of those who didn’t know me. How strange this seems to me now, except I think unconsciously I felt more freedom around strangers than family or friends. When you allow the pain to surface, it frightens many people, especially family who feel helpless.
We want to be strong for others, yet I wonder if that is wise. When we are in grief why must we be afraid to reveal it? This journey has no signposts along the way for the correct response. I was traveling down a new uncharted road.
I found also, as I now look back, that when in sorrow you live in an atmosphere of only being able to process small amounts of your pain. This I know is the Grace of God. For the Christian, there is comfort given in these moments. Without God, I cannot imagine how I would of lived through those heart rending times.
In these last five years after our son’s sudden death, I have gained many new perspectives. I know now that the face of grief can be smiling, yet crying in the secret chambers of the heart. I know that I cannot judge my fellow sufferer for who may appear outwardly in control.
I remember years ago, while in my sixth month of pregnancy, that the tiny baby I was carrying suddenly stopped moving and passed from this life. I came to the realization that I had no idea the grief other women had known. I didn’t know until I experienced it, the depths of sadness one went through.
I recall being told by an individual, after this: “Oh well, you can always have another.” That stunned me, until I remembered and asked myself, how much compassion had I myself shown to others?
One thing that keeps surfacing in my life now, is that in order to be healed I must embrace my sorrow and learn from it. Always God is teaching me to see this through the lens of faith. I don’t have to have all the puzzle pieces fit together, or have life tied up in a nice neat package. Why? Because I choose to believe that the Creator of the universe is working all together for good, even my suffering.
That second year of Aaron’s death found a whole new array of things to deal with.
The peaceful cocoon was opening up, and with it reality. At first it was almost like our son was on a trip somewhere. My mind began to assimilate the facts, that for now all human contact, all holidays, phone visits, had come to a screeching halt. The fact of not being able to even say goodbye. The abruptness, the finality.
People assume that time will heal this wound. I find time doesn’t heal anything. A part of you has died, and years cannot erase that. The healing comes in accepting that for you, there will never come a point in which you can replace this loved one with anything. But the healing will come as you can give thanks that you were able, if only a brief moment, to love this one. Thankful for this life that became a part of you. Thankful for the good times, the bad times, in fact thankful for time itself. Why would we assume we are “ entitled” for a long comfy life, for ourselves or our loved ones?
I can see other hurting people, and enter into their pain now. I can see more clearly the sanctity of life, how fragile and fleeting. I can be intentional in appreciating this gift, in fact all gifts that before I was blind to. And I am finding out, that for me, as I receive God’s Grace, healing, and blessed peace.