April 1st will mark six months since my son passed away. As I approach this date it is hard to imagine it has been half of a year. I have a lot of emotions about this.
One thing I know for sure is that I am forever changed.
The loss of my son has changed me in profound ways. As I move through the shock and try to make sense of what has happened, I realize I am never going to be the same. As I move through the process of trying to accept this loss I realize that I have a new relationship with God.
It is almost as if my son has made a formal introduction, “Mom, this God. God, this is my mom.”
I was already acquainted with Him. But this is a new type of relationship. I feel as if I have have had a peek behind the curtain. The experience of losing a child has been a stripping away of everything that I thought life was about. Life was something that happened in the morning when I woke up and ended once I closed my eyes at night. Life was all the stuff in between. The busy-ness of having groceries in the house, taking kids to school and sports practices, thinking about what to have for dinner, making sure everyone had clean clothes, filling out college applications, making plans for everyones’ future. I somehow thought if I plodded away at it every day I could keep life under control. I hate feeling overwhelmed. I prefer to anticipate problems and prepare. Nothing prepares you for this.
I find myself feeling introspective as I process my son’s passing. I have tried to be gentle with myself and have given myself permission to to be quiet. I feel as if the solitude has given me a new perspective. I feel as if I can let go of the things in my life that didn’t make me feel supported. I have gravitated toward the people and things that are helping me to move through this season of my life. It makes me wonder why it takes an event of this magnitude to give me the freedom to do this.
The realist in me knows that I can’t change what has happened. I can only choose how I want to move forward. I do not want to be held in a prison of negative thinking. I want to enjoy the things that I do have. Obviously, there are still moments everyday when something will remind me of my loss. I think that is normal. It’s okay to miss my son in the flesh. When I happen to see photos of all four of my kids at every stage of growing up, I sometimes have to do a double-take. I look at the photo and remember exactly the moment the photo was taken and stare in disbelief that one of those kids has died.
Something that is really hard is when I meet someone new and they ask, “How many kids do you have? What do they do?” I never know what to say. To say that I have three is obviously the easiest answer to give a stranger. But to do so makes my son’s life invisible. It makes his 29 years seem like they didn’t exist. I changed those diapers. I held him when he had earaches. All of the experiences that I exposed him to are part of MY life, too.
I gave birth to four children. I raised four children. I had four kids active in sports. I had four kids graduate from high school. I helped four kids find colleges. Everyone who has raised children all the way to adulthood knows that is hard work. That is part of MY history. So when I answer, “I have four. Three boys and a girl. My second son is doing such and such. My third son is doing such and such. My daughter is doing such and such. My oldest son passed away in October.” There is an awkward pause. It makes the other person feel more awkward than I feel. But it seems wrong at this time to not answer, “Four.”
“Since his days are determined. The number of his months is with You; And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.” Job 14:5
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all of the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16
Verses from the Bible like these give me comfort. Sometimes I start thinking, ” Why did this happen?, “Could this have been prevented?” I have to pull myself away from these type of thoughts by remembering these verses. God had my son’s days numbered before I had a positive pregnancy test. I remind myself that I was a good mother. I helped my child have many happy experiences. He knew he was loved. Although, 29 years seems too short, I would rather have had 29 years with him than to never have had any with him. All of the proud moments and the joy that I experienced because of him were a gift. He was a gift. He was only on loan to me.
No, I will never be the same as I was before he died. I don’t think I am supposed to ever be the same. I feel as if I have a greater understanding of what life is supposed to be about. I am not supposed to get caught up in all of the little details of life. I am just supposed to love the people God puts in my path. I choose to remember my son with deep gratitude and love. I choose to savor every moment I have left with my other three children, their spouses, my husband, and any grandchildren I may be lucky enough to live to see.
It has been six months since my world flipped. I am left with hope, faith, grace, and gratitude.
Love and Peace.
Have YOU been through a loss? How did it change YOU? Please share in the comments.
She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.