Around the age of three, I got my ankle caught in the spokes of a bicycle. The injury turned into a staph infection, taking me out of the world of childhood play for quite a while. We have pictures of me sadly sitting by a pool with my foot and leg bandaged up, while my sister and cousins are having fun playing and splashing around. Even though I totally recovered, I still have a scar on my ankle and always will.
A few years ago, I needed surgery, and was quite surprised when it took me many weeks to be able to function and take care of my family again, instead of them taking care of me. Once again, I have a permanent scar, reminding me of what I went through.
Just like a physical scar, there are things that happen in our lives that cause emotional scars. The scar of the death of our child is definitely one of those events.
Our daughter, Becca, had her left leg amputated when she was only three years old, due to bone cancer. The scar on her stump from her missing leg is a lot like the emotional scar we carry when our child has been cut off from us on this earth (much more than the scar on my ankle).
But the comparisons don’t stop at the scar of the injury.
Did having a staph infection in my ankle keep me from ever swimming again? No way! I love to swim and be in the water (especially in warm places with beautiful beaches).
Did having an amputation keep Becca from running and playing with the other children? No, it didn’t. It may have slowed her down and caused her to adapt to how she ran and how she played, but it didn’t stop her.
Does the death of our child mean our life is over, and we will never be able to live a full life again? No, it doesn’t. We need time to go through a “recovery” process (for lack of a better word) and need time to learn how to function with our child no longer here, but it doesn’t mean we will never be able to function again.
We will go through times when everyone around us is splashing and playing while we are unable to participate because of our wounds.
We will go through times when we can’t function, and have to wait for more healing.
We will go through times when we have to adjust the way we do things.
We will forever bear the scar of our amputation. We will always have reminders that part of us is missing. But we are not permanently injured to the point of being out of commission for the rest of our lives.
If you are in the first one to three years of grief, this may sound impossible. But I assure you, it isn’t.
May I remind you there are still people who want and need you in their lives; God still has a plan and purpose for you.
Don’t give up. Don’t give up on life. Don’t give up on hope. Don’t give up on happiness, laughter and joy. Hang on, one day, one minute, one breath at a time.
When it is time to do nothing but rest, that’s okay; do nothing but rest (and cry, or whatever else you need to do).
When it’s time to get up and push your way through, do it. Fight for it.
And make sure you have people in your life who have faced the same “injury,” who are further on the path ahead of you. Knowing others have been able to live beyond the death of their child reminds you that it is possible, plus, they will be your greatest encouragers, understanding the process because they have been through it themselves.
Yes, we will forever bear the scars of our amputation. We will forever be reminded our child is no longer here with us. But we can also learn to live a full life with part of us missing.
I know, because I have the scars to prove it.
If you would like a free copy of Thirty-six Scriptures of Hope to print out and meditate on, click here. You will be taken to a page to access our free library, which has many useful items.
Expressions of Hope is written by author and speaker Laura Diehl to bring hope, light and life to bereaved parents, which she call pareavors. (Pa from the word parent, and reave from the root word bereave which means “plundered or robbed, deprive one of, seized, carry, or tear away.”) This is a pretty good description of who we are and what has happened to us.