My friend Becky posted on Facebook the other day that a new year isn’t necessarily happy. And so as I write this, I have in mind those who may not necessarily be having a happy experience as the new year begins. Because, truth be told, blues can and do set in, even at the beginning of the year. But is there hope? Is this necessarily bad? Can anything good come out of it?
As the clock ticked and the world moved on from 2016 to 2017, a wave of emotion washed over me. I realized that I was leaving my son Jason behind, and his existence was moving further and further away from the present, from my present. I cried and sobbed, I wept. I wept because I missed him (and I still do), but I also wept because I saw that God has taken us through those 2 years, and we’re still here, safe and well.
God has taken us through the journey of losing our son, of grieving through it, of people being present and then inevitably absent (or just not knowing what to do)…and through other good and bad things that are part of life. And if God has taken me through all that, I knew that He would be able to do so and so much more in 2017.
I Miss the Sharp Pain
Fast forward to 8th January, 2017. It’s exactly 2 years since our son went to be with Jesus. I usually plan to mark this day in one way or another. This time round it was different. As I sat and thought about my son, I felt a certain numbness come over me. I didn’t cry. The sharp pain was gone, and a gaping hole was in its place.
I remembered what my friend Lynn Kohls had told me 2 years ago. She told me it would get harder as the pain eased away, and I would feel guilty for not feeling the pain as intensely as I did at the beginning. Granted, I miss my son, and I still shed a tear or two even at random moments.
But on the 8th of January, this year, I missed him, and I didn’t shed a tear. I realized that I missed being able to cry for him especially on a day such as this. I didn’t take flowers to his grave; I didn’t do anything particularly symbolic. But in a sense, he was on my mind every moment of that day.
Someone said that healing doesn’t take place in such a way that something or someone comes and replaces the person that we lost. The gap that remains is the special place and gift that we have of our lost person. And it would be a tragedy if that was fully filled, for it would be as though that person did not exist, was not unique and was easily replaceable. And that can never be the case.
Grieve in Your Own Way
So as we enter into 2017, I do not ask for ‘healing’ in a manner as to suppress the existence of my son. Still, I do not ignore anything that triggers fond memories of him. I will still shed a tear, such as I did on Saturday, I will cry expressively as I did a few days ago, and I will sit in solemn silence the way I did on 8th January.
I will not allow anyone or anything to push me into conformity of any sort, citing certain ‘unwanted’ attributes of my faith (don’t you believe in God, let this go, etc) or forcing me into societal boxes of poise and posture. He was my son, and my heart still has a huge place just for him. His life and his death are part of my life, and part of who I am, and that contributes greatly to the person I am today.
I know that God walks with us even in the valley of the shadow of death. I know that for a fact because He has walked with me. I know that God wipes away our tears. I know that God truly cares for us. And this gives me hope and makes me a better encourager. A better friend. A more patient person. And this gives me a more deeply rooted relationship with God. I am sure of His assurance.
He may not have healed my little boy in the way I thought He would, but He did heal him in His own way. He protected him from something we couldn’t. He gave him something better than we could ever have given him. And in His own special way, God is helping me parent my son up there in heaven.
So in 2017, I trust God more. And I encourage you to do the same. He can see you through anything. He made the world out of nothing. Just think about what He could possibly do with your pain, your loss, your situation. And give Him a chance. Don’t waste that hurt, don’t waste that pain. Something good CAN come out of that situation.
He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair