After Bad Things Happen To Good People
By most standards we would be considered “good people”. We are also the good people who a horribly bad thing happened to. Walking, breathing proof that bad things do happen to good people. I’ve heard, “When I’m having a bad day, I think of you and what you must have to go through everyday and I don’t feel so bad.” As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t want to be the poster-Mom for how bad your life could be. (Look at her and count your blessings!) I will never understand this and we will never be “over” this, but I do know I have not been called to that.
Tragedy alters the marrow of what makes you you. I believe that in this time of seeming disconnect from God, that the Holy Spirit still inhabits a tiny pilot light somewhere in the recesses of my heart and those like mine. As we continue to learn to see life through the filter of this loss, I want to believe that a Godly purpose can lie within the most ungodly of pains. I fully believe that I have been called to more, but there are integral parts of a parent that change forever after a child is taken too soon.
Your perspective on what is ‘real’ changes
When tragedy wraps it’s suffocating arms around your household, your perspective is no longer from the outside looking in. It feels like you exist in a fishbowl that everyone else can look into but can never really come in, and you wouldn’t want them to. Any sense of well-being you may have had and taken for granted is diminished. Nothing is right anymore. Nothing. Going home to a familiar, intact life and saying “Thank GOD we were spared.” is simply not an option.
We were not spared. We go home to spaces we don’t recognize, that don’t really feel like home anymore and say, “God, just get me through today.” That is a different perspective of real.
The wool of innocence about God and life, about the depth and breadth of pain one can experience is savagely yanked from your eyes when a child is taken. A barbed sense of reality consumes your mind and your outlook on the world. Optimism is not a natural state of mind anymore- how can it be? If a new path and purpose exists, it is buried deep beneath the rubble and dust of what was. Our sense of reality no longer matches up with most others. We are different now.
‘Real’ to us is that you could lose another child. It happened once….
Real to us is that every person, every relationship feels fragile. Someone else you love may go or fade themselves out of your life. Even if you have the energy to chase what was, you can’t risk the emotion that may follow, so you let them go. Fiercely guarding what is left of your heart.
Real to us is that dreaming about the future can evoke such sadness and guilt because your child is glaringly absent from every beautiful image you can envision.
Real to us is that we keep our world small and tread through it carefully. It can feel like a mine-field some days. Places, music, people, even smells can be like stepping on a bomb that will heave us into a hole that we don’t want to have to climb out of.
Real is that bad things happen. To us.
The very worst thing happened and we don’t know why.
Real is that often bereaved parents’ outlook and decisions are judged by those outside the fishbowl. Other’s reality is not ours and the last thing we need is judgment.
After child loss hope & faith are harder to grasp
Hope and faith- those foundational elements of the human experience, especially the Christian experience, must be willfully pursued. They are no longer a natural part of us as they once were, yet we need them more than ever. We crave to believe with all our heart, to hope beyond all hope! Even to feel a drop or two seep back into our soul.
To be who we were.
For the tiniest faith-seed to be planted somewhere in our heart.
HOPE was so easy when all our children were alive and well, our house bustling with activity and life! Feeding those fertile places that long to grow and dream. How do you continue to feel hopeful when there is an empty chair at every meal and an empty bedroom every night? Where does a withered heart find hope like that with such ease again?
How effortless FAITH was before our world collapsed around us. To look in the face of our spouse and see wholeness instead of heart break, to hear laughter with abandon rather than sobs from behind closed doors and to whisper to each other of our dreams. What effort it is now to pull The Word in close to our heart and trust it again.
Our hope now is largely singular. Eternity. Eternity with Christ and the sheer bliss of the reunion with our son. Hope is the anchor for our soul.
Hope is what tethers us to the frayed and weakened fragment of our faith, and it’s an act of will that keeps us hanging on.
…child loss makes warriors out of ordinary people
Child loss makes warriors out of the most ordinary of people. They face lost careers and crumbling marriages but somehow mold something new from the remains of what was. With limited energy and focus, they find causes to fight for, they write books and travel- talking about their experience over and over just to lift others from the hole. They create programs and awareness for amazing causes. They lay their battered hearts across a keyboard to write, hoping Moms who would rather die than face life without their child can feel companionship and understanding. All while taking care of other children, hanging on to careers and still carrying an unimaginable weight of loss and loneliness.
The most remarkable people I know now are bereaved parents. They have a unique strength that nestles itself quietly into their being- right behind the hole where their child once was.
Pain and strength existing and expressing beside each other. Bringing something good from something awful.
I know now that the truest faithful are the ones that bear the unbearable, but keep believing. The truest faithful have seen everything they believed in get buried with their child, yet still reach for that hope & faith that used to come so easily. Those with the most faith and purpose have every reason to want to cease existing, but raise their heads and power on despite it.
The truest faithful have been to hell and back, and that explains much.
…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah 40:31
If someone you know has lost a child or is a close friend or family member of someone who has, please share this and other bereavement blogs. Grieving a child is a life long struggle. They will need the people around them to better understand the complexities of living life without one of your children. Thank you. -Jennifer