Every time a new year shows up, it brings lots of emotions for many of us bereaved parents, especially if this is the first time the calendar has turned since your child died.
There are lots of words that can describe what we think and how we feel. Numb, regret, anger, sorrow, fear, confusion… I am sure you could add quite a few of your own words to this list.
These are all valid, for sure! And as you can see, they are all negative. So, how can we start to move the needle toward the positive, especially if we don’t see how that is even possible? Or maybe you are someone who doesn’t know if they even want to?
I believe there is a word that is the bridge between the two.
When we have no hope, we have no desire to live.
We know the enemy is out to steal from us and kill us. If he can’t do it physically, he will do it emotionally. When our child dies, we have the biggest red target on us for the enemy to do exactly that. He steals our hope, leaving us wanting to die to go be with our child. Even if we have other children, a wonderful marriage and had a life full of purpose and passion before our child’s death, it all comes crashing down and we are left in a world of darkness and hopelessness.
However, the death of our child did not blindside God like it might have done to us. That means we do not have to stay a slave, chained to our prison of darkness with no hope. Jesus came to break every chain that could ever try to keep us bound. He will carry us through this valley of death, back into a place of abounding hope.
There is a seed of hope already inside of you! It may be dormant at the moment, but it is there. It just needs to be nurtured, and in time, in its season, it will begin to break through the hard ground and begin to sprout.
And that brings up another word.
Time can be terrifying to us now. Time means we are getting further away from our child. In the beginning, I used to dread the day my daughter would be gone for five years, and I couldn’t imagine her not being here for ten or twenty years or more. The thought of it can take my breath away and bring stinging tears!
And yet, as time goes by, it also means we are getting closer to seeing our child again, and that makes me excited!
The pendulum of time…it is all in our perspective.
I don’t believe that saying, “Time heals all wounds.” That is impossible when it comes to the death of our child. But I do believe what we do with our time makes a big difference in how long we stay in that place of suffocating darkness.
And one thing we can do, that can bring a huge shift is to
This is not easy to do, especially if we feel like God betrayed us by allowing our child to leave this earth (and even more so if it was a traumatic departure).
During grief, people either move toward God or away from Him. But the truth is, when we move away from Him, we are moving away from the One who can help us the most. God wants to walk with us through this valley of death. He wants to give us comfort and strength. He wants to give us hope and yes, even a vision for our future that still has good things in it.
These are all things we desperately need. But if we choose to move away from Him, we will continue to desperately need these things.
Grieving the death of your child is a time to get as close to God as you possibly can.
It makes me think of a distraught child crying uncontrollably and his father bending down to embrace and comfort him. The son is so upset he is kicking and screaming and fighting, not wanting to be picked up and loved on. Eventually the child runs out of strength and relaxes in the embrace of his loving father. And now that child can receive the comfort, strength and hope he wants and needs.
It is the same with us. Don’t fight the One who can give you the very things you need. Surrender, allowing Him to embrace you and carry you in His strong arms of love.
In talking about surrender, I mentioned another word:
Like I said, the death of our child did not blindside God. In His eyes, we still have a life to live. He has a plan for us, and believe it or not, it is a good plan. Does it seem next to impossible to believe that? How can a good plan for our future be one that is without our child in it?
I had to learn the reality of the truth that my plans are not God’s plans. His ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts. I have grown into a deeper faith in how awesomely powerful my God is. That He really can take something as horrific as the death of a child, and somehow, miraculously, bring good from it.
If my focus is on my loss, I cannot rise above it to face my future. But if my focus is on my promised future, then it is much easier to rise above the loss and step forward into that future and the good things God still has for me. (And don’t forget about the future we will have in eternity, never to be separated from our child again!)
Not only do we still have a future with good things in it, our life can have meaning and
Each of us has a set number of days here on this old earth, and then we move on to the glorious side of eternity. Our child’s time here was much too short as far as we are concerned, and we were supposed to go first. But the fact remains, our child has now moved on to his or her permanent home and is more alive and full of life than we are! For reasons we don’t understand, their purpose on earth was completed before ours was.
So now it is important that we continue moving forward in our earthly purpose, so that when we join our child who is waiting for us, we will both hear the wonderful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)
And that brings me to my final word:
Bad things happen to good people. Horrible and evil things happen to God’s people. You have paid what many will say is the ultimate price of sacrifice on this earth—the death of your son or daughter. (Sound familiar? I know someone else who paid the price of His Son a little over two thousand years ago.) But you did not give your child willingly or have a choice.
The question is: Are you going to let it be a wasted sacrifice? Are you going to become bitter or better? What value are you going to place on the life of your child? That is where the mind shift happens. Life or death?
I refuse to let death cause more death! I will not give the enemy that kind of a victory! Because Jesus lives, I can live. I have allowed my God to make good on His promises in my life, to give strength to the weary and hope to the hopeless. And I will allow that hope to continue to grow as it becomes joy that reaches beyond death, both my child’s and mine.
I hope and pray in this new year, you decide to make the same choice.
I want to encourage you to ask God to give you a specific word for this year: a word that represents what He wants to work into your life through this grief journey. My word is joy. I want and need the fullness of His joy back in my life again. I would love to know in the blog comments what your word is!
Much of this blog was taken from the My Grief Journey: Coloring Book and Journal for Bereaved Parents. It has forty-two words that describe our life after the death of our child. Each word has a coloring page, a journaling prompt, a thought about that word, and an appropriate scripture. Here is a list of those words:
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Expressions of Hope is written by author, speaker and singer Laura Diehl. She and her husband, Dave, are the founders of Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope). Dave and Laura travel full time in their Hope Mobile (a 38-foot motor home) to be more easily available for speaking and ministry requests, including being invited to hold one-day GPS Hope & Healing conferences.
If you would like more information about Laura as a speaker for your next event or want more information on hosting a GPS Hope & Healing conference, click here.
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