A friend read a recent post and commented that she hoped I was okay. She wondered if I was feeling a new or renewed depth of sadness. The answer is yes and yes. Yes, I’m okay. I’m not despondent or suicidal. But, yes, I have recently had a renewed depth of sadness.
I’ve talked about grief seasons and how that term resonates with most bereaved parents. There is a time period (or several) every year that brings back the grief of losing a child. Certain days, of course, such as the child’s birth day, death day, holidays and other personal commemorative days hit our emotions hard every single year. As time passes, the sadness may mellow. The first year or so, these days felt like a sucker punch to my heart. After six years, they still hurt, but I can usually shed my tears in the morning and then go about my day outwardly intact.
Sometimes, though it’s not just individual days that tug our heartstrings, but a period of time. Many grievers refer to this as their grief season. My grief season usually starts with Rachel’s birthday on October 31st; continues through the holidays, when her absence is always palpable; includes her wedding day; and ebbs sometime around the day she died (just two months after her wedding). The “ebbing” varies from year to year because her death and memorial service coincided with Easter week in 2017. So, because Easter isn’t a fixed date on the calendar, my grief season isn’t fixed either.
If you are a grieving parent, I expect this rings true even if you aren’t familiar with the term grief season. I first heard it in a bereaved parent group but I have never heard it applied to the loss of any other loved one.
So, my sweet friend, who thankfully has not experienced child loss, was worried about me. I seemed to be going through a depressive period and maybe even a loss of faith or hope.
Most of the first year after Rachel died, I fought hard with God. How could He let this happen? Was He punishing me? I’m not a perfect parent; I’ve sinned; I drifted away from church and reading my Bible and praying. I was due for a wake-up call. But, Rachel’s death hurt others, as well. Was that fair? Just what kind of god acts like that?
Notice that all these questions and wailings and wordless rages weren’t directed at just any ol’ god, though. They were hurled at and begged to the God I still believed in. The God of my fathers. The Father of my Saviour. The God who cupped my quivering chin in His hand and said “I hear you.”
The God who hasn’t answered all my questions. Yet. Perhaps because I don’t have the capacity to understand His plan and His reasons. But, He whispered to me “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The second verse of this psalm says: “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way . . .”. Yeah, well the ground dropped right out from under me when I heard my son-in-law say “Rachel is dead.”
But remember this psalm starts out with “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (verse 1).
I believe this. I KNOW this. God is ever present. He is the safe place I crawl to when I am scared and broken. He holds me up when my knees tremble. He does this not just when I ask Him to. He does this when I stomp my feet like a tantruming toddler or slam my door like a petulant teenager. Because He knows that’s when I need Him most.
These days I’m a bit more grown-up in my behavior. At least when it comes to how I express my feelings and emotions about losing Rachel. I still hurt. I still cry. I will miss her until I join her in Heaven.
But, I’m okay.
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