Child Loss and Bereavement: The First Three Years
I have been rolling this blog post idea around in my head for many years and it wasn’t until recently that I decided that it might be beneficial for others going through child loss to hear about my journey. I believe it takes a village to encourage, uplift and speak life to one another and my hope is by reading my blog you will be encouraged, uplifted, and on your way to a closer relationship with the Lord. My blog posts are not going to be frilly and bright, they are going to real and at times, raw. I will not sugar coat my journey through the grieving and healing process, nor will I skip over the fact that my relationship with the Lord is the only way I have been able to heal properly. I do acknowledge and respect the fact that our stories are different and the circumstance surrounding the death of our child will be different. I can only speak from my personal experiences and through these posts (and my upcoming book) that you are able to find comfort, a new joy in life, and the encouragement to continue to move forward in your life.
I believe that the first year following Hannah’s death was a lived in the safety of shock. It was the year of firsts for my family and me. The first Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Birthdays…every holiday was a reminder of the big gaping hole left in my heart from the absence of Hannah. There wasn’t much time for me to think about myself and I didn’t have anyone readily available to talk to that could personally relate to what I was going through, though my parents and siblings were a great help during this time. They, like the few friends I had, were there just to listen to me and give me a shoulder to cry on. Our tiny town had few resources and even fewer meetings, in fact, during this first year I had no idea, there were support groups such as GriefShare or Compassionate Friends. This was the first time in my life that I found myself going online to search for Christian counseling and ended up finding a mother who had just buried her child from a stroke. It was during this time that I found online friends for the first time, along with the counseling that was not available in my area. As I think back to the first year, I have no idea how I made it through because it really is a blur. I wonder, now, how I was able to continue my college education, take care of my older four daughters, deal with the several epileptic episodes my oldest daughter endured and still manage my household. My only answer would be the support of the Lord and my family.
I remember the second year after Hannah’s passing was a year filled with false guilt. Thoughts swarmed my every waking minute such “how can you celebrate this holiday without her” or “how do you give Thanks (on Thanksgiving) when you had a child that died”. This was the year I learned what false guilt was and how to, with the Lord’s help, overcome such thoughts and emotions. This was also my first full year of holidays and special occasions without Hannah, including my college graduation. As I received hugs from my four daughters, I longed to have Hannah with me to celebrate this special occasion and I know she would have been proud of me just like her older sisters.
I have to say, the third year was the absolute worse for me personally and spiritually. I struggled with one constant emotion that masked itself as a question which was “WHY”. Why Hannah? Why me? Why my child? Why this way? Of course, I knew that the God of the Universe did not owe me an explanation, but my motherly heart just could not rid itself of this one question and I knew that in order for me to grow in this new life journey, grow closer to the Lord and be able to raise my children, I had to have some type of answer. I got my answer and it was this, Hannah lived the life that was meant for her; she had run the race set before her.”
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
This was the year that would make me see the world with new eyes, gain a new voice, and begin a new walk with my Savior. I had two choices; either this experience could make me BETTER or BITTER. The choice was mine and chose to be BETTER.
Our grief and healing journey is so personal and having a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and a confidant that allows you to share your deepest concerns. Life is hard and when you are thrown into the reality of having to bury your loved one, even the strongest person needs someone to help them up and through the journey ahead.
If you are a bereaved parent, please know that there is help for you during this journey, please don’t feel you have to go it alone. If you are a family member or friend of someone bereaved, please just be there for them, you don’t have any special answer.
Every day I lean on God’s promise, found in Revelation:
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’
or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”