“Believing Against The Grain” is central to my personal healing process and more importantly, my sanity. Enough so that I tattooed it on my forearm facing me so I could see it all day long, everyday, for the rest of my life. Pretty darned important. What I didn’t foresee were just how many people were going to ask me what it meant and how completely inarticulate I would be at explaining it. Embarrassingly inarticulate. Why? I have no idea. Maybe when something is so personally paramount to your well-being and your future, it’s just hard to explain. I’ll do better if I can explain it in writing, and I know this creed for bereaved parents, will give hope and comfort and something to focus on for others who need help.
On my “Scriptures and Resources” page, there is a book called “Gone But Not Lost, Grieving The Death Of A Child”, by David W. Weirsbe. This book saved my life in the very early days after my son died. I continue to read parts of it on many occasions still. Somehow, in every chapter, he managed to say to me ” I get this Jennifer, I understand, you are not alone in this, you are not crazy, what is happening is healthy and normal and you’re going to be OK. Oh, and by the way, God Is Not Dead, he hasn’t left you.” For instance, in chapter 7, “Grief Is Not Rational” he writes,
“The most rigorous logic in the world will not allow you to escape the pain inside. It is an emotional jumble.The feelings are real: emotional and physical pain; anger, depression and confusion. The quest for understanding is also real, frustrated by the inability to find the key that could turn back time.”
No rational person actually ponders the ability to turn back time, but a parent who just tragically lost a child begs for it, would give their very life for it. They can almost touch it, but it can’t be, and so they are agonizingly helpless as a result. In Chapter 3 he writes;
“It feels like drowning. You’re in over your head and you can’t catch your breath. (YES!) When you do come up for air, you seem to get pulled back under. Each time you seem to go down deeper. It’s the depths- the depths of grief and sorrow.”
Yes it feels like drowning! The panic, the unrelenting physical pain, the loss of control and flailing, choking and suffocation. The garbled screaming through the water that is your mind, that no one can hear. Most days you would take drowning over this. However, In chapter 12, titled “The Mourners Creed”, he says, (Parentheses mine),
“When we grieve, God seems to be hiding. (umm…yes) It feels like he has abandoned us. ( yes it does) He hasn’t. In sorrow we feel as if nothing matters (it doesn’t) It does. Sometimes we think life is no longer worth living; it is. In times of suffering, people of faith have to “believe against the grain.” In our weakness, God reveals His strength and allows us to go further or do more than we thought possible.” Please God, yes. Please.
Mourners need a creed: It is “I believe!” And here is what I’m believing for, against the grain until I hold you again Aiden…
I believe God’s promises are true.
I believe heaven is real.
I believe I will see my child again.
I believe God will see me through this.
I believe nothing can separate me from God’s love.
I believe God has work for me to do.
I believe God can turn loss into gain.
Since reading that book, in the deepest depths of that drowning, I have seen God work at “seeing me through this.” I have stopped wishing He would take me too, and believe I do still “have work to do.” I have started writing, and have created this blog to help others. Maybe some other hurting Mom or Dad is reading this right now and thinking, “My God someone else does get this. I will be OK too.” and God will have begun turning loss into gain.
“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” 2 Corinthians 12:10