Joy is more than feeling cheerful. It is a light that shines inside my soul from the Holy Spirit. Love is the result of communion with God. Peace is not the absence of troubles; it is a feeling inside my soul from the presence of God.
It is from this basic belief system that I began the journey of child loss. I do know that without my faith I would not have been able to endure great loss.
When we received the news, it felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me. I felt like a turtle on its back unable to flip over. The only thing I knew to do was pray. God, show me what to do. What do you want me to do? God, place someone in my path to show me what to do.
Have I been happy about the loss? No. I would love to step into a time machine and have a do-over. Do I have a choice? No. It does not benefit my emotional well being or my family to attempt to move forward with my life if I start with the wish that the loss had not happened. I have to start with the reality of the physical loss of my son. So what am I going to do to move forward? I have to go back to seeking joy in my soul. The only way that I have been able to do this is by believing in something bigger than myself.
When my children were young, I could stay two steps ahead of them. If they were teetering on a chair on their tiptoes as toddlers, I could run to save them. If their juice cup was too close to the edge of the table, I could anticipate what might happen and rush in to move it. If they were kicking a ball in the front yard, I could prevent them from chasing it into the street. But as my children became teenagers, young adults, and now fully grown adults I can’t prevent every mishap that is going to happen in their lives. If I ever thought I was really in control, it was only an illusion.
So I had to release my need to have control. I have to go back to my faith. I have to believe that God has a plan and it is too complex for me to take in. I mean, let’s get real. I don’t even have all of my kids phone numbers memorized. How on earth could I absorb the plan that God has for everyone that I love in my life? This is the only way that I have been able to feel joy in my life again.
Once I released the idea that I had control, life has become so much simpler. Once I released the notion of control, I am able to live in the moment. I can enjoy what is here right now. I no longer need to be two steps ahead. I will tell you it is freeing. I am able to feel joy. I am choosing to believe that this shift in perspective is a gift that my son has given me.
Throughout this past year, my friends and family have seen me at my most broken. The egg that is my heart has been cracked wide open and everything has been oozing out. My busted heart is now open to all of the love and kindness that people want to show me. In the past, I have always been self reliant. Everyone came to me for all of the answers because you know, I was so in control. Well, my busted heart and I are wide open to kindness and all of the love that goes with it. I am so glad that I didn’t just curl up into a ball and not let anyone in. I have felt so much joy in developing deeper relationships with the friends that I already had. I have also received joy from meeting people that I didn’t know before. It is through my weakness that I have received joy and gratitude for everyone who has gifted me with their time, talents, and love. This is a gift that my son has given to me.
I have never felt more free to be my authentic self. For better or worse, this is the new me. I have changed. When is she going to be back to normal? This is my new normal. Personally, I think my new normal is better than my old normal. This new me relies on God to direct me. The new me has closer friends and a whole bunch of new friends who all know me from the inside out. The depth of these relationships is sweeter. I have been able to see into the loving hearts of the people around me as they minister to me and offer comfort. Through them I have learned how to be a better friend. This is a gift that my son has given to me.
I don’t have to be happy about my circumstance. However, I can choose to see and accept the kindness and goodness that has come from the people that God has placed on my path. I can choose to be faithful in my belief that there is a heaven and that my son is waiting for us there. I have received validation of that over and over again through signs and serendipitous moments. I can choose to be patient with myself.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. That is what I choose.
Peace and Love.
She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.
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