One of the hardest parts of grief comes from the belief that I am completely alone. No one understands the pain of losing a child. Thankfully, though, I know it is not true. Through this journey of grief I have met a lot of other parents who have had to bury their children. Some have been on this path a lot longer than I have. Some have just started. Their experiences might not be the same. Some had warning that their child was leaving. Some, like me, did not. The circumstances don’t really matter. We have all been there.
It always hits me hard when I hear about another child dying. The rush of emotions that accompanied hearing about Arlynne almost always come flooding back. Pulling me under. I remember going to the school the day that a little girl died there. First, there was the sense of panic at seeing a police cruiser in the school parking lot. Then there was the overwhelming grief of hearing that another mom was walking through loss, just like me.
Being a grieving mom gave me a life-time membership to a club that no one wants to join. It made my heart ever sensitive to another grieving mom. I have other connection points to people. Moms of kids with challenges. Moms with a big family like mine. No other connection, however, is as strong as the connection of grief.
I am so thankful that God put other moms in my life. I remember getting a phone call on the 2 month anniversary(?) of Arlynne’s death. On the phone was another mom who had lost a child. We had never met before. A friend had given her my name. She didn’t even know what to say. She just told me who she was and started crying. I will never forget that day. I have since met this beautiful mom in person. In fact, I came to a book-signing that she was involved in. I didn’t have to introduce myself. As soon as she saw me, she hugged me. We had a bond. A connection.
Not every mom who has lost a child is healthy in their approach to grief. Some have chosen a different outlook. A stance of anger or bitterness. They can’t help themselves, much less anyone else. There are also those times when I just have to go it alone. I have participated in a few grief groups. I have talked a lot but isn’t the right place to reach out, at least not in person. I need to go somewhere else.
I have been spending a lot of time in the Psalms lately. I love God’s Word. Especially the Psalms. No where else in the Bible can I see such an outpouring of man to God. Here I can read the cries of someone who is whole-heartedly searching. Calling out. Seeking a relationship with my Creator God. My Father God. My LORD God.
I was talking to a friend today. We were talking about the need to write. She, in poem form. Me, in journal (or blog) form. She said that her heart was full and she didn’t want to express it because it sounded negative. She wanted to wallow. She didn’t want to see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. She wanted to linger for a little. I sometimes feel the same. I start to write, not sure where it is going. I just want to pour all the hurt out. I can’t keep it inside anymore.
The Psalms are like that. Here we see David, a man after God’s own heart, anointed future king of Israel, running for his life. He is lonely, struggling, pleading with God to “show up”. He writes in Psalm 22,
“1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.” (NIV)
I feel his pain. I have felt completely alone. Abandoned. What encourages my heart though, is the way this same Psalm ends. It starts with a cry and ends with an exaltation of praise. Verse 24 says:
“For He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” (NIV)
What has started out as a cry for help has ended in an assurance that God is here. He never left.
I believe that we have David’s example, not only to encourage us but also to illustrate that it is okay to come to God with the hard questions. I have been in the church my whole life and it is easy to believe that I can’t question God. He is GOD, afterall. Who am I to approach Him? Who am I to question Him?
Job had everything taken away from him, his livestock (wealth), his children and his health. His “friends” came and told him to curse God. How can He allow this kind of suffering? Job himself says, “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up but you merely look at me.”, Job 30:20 (NIV). God does answer Job. He reminds him of His infinite power. He reminds him of His incomprehensible knowledge. God doesn’t tell him “why” but because of Job’s righteousness, his faith in God’s goodness, God rewards him. I
can ask God the questions. I don’t believe that I can hide them. God is not afraid of my raw emotion. He won’t hide His face from me. He wants a relationship. Even with me. Even when I ask questions. I might not get the answers. Not yet. But I need to trust that He is working through my circumstances.
The thought that God is always there, always hearing me, brings a sense of stability to my life. I can’t control my circumstances. I’ve given up trying. But God can. He does. He is there. Behind me. Waiting. There are times when it is easy to feel abandoned. When I feel like I am drowning. But because of His great, unchangeable love for me, I don’t have to. I might not be able to always sense His presence but His word assures me that He is always there.
I may start out struggling under the weight of this life but in the end I can thank God that I am not alone. I might not know the outcome of my life but my Father God does. That’s good enough for me.