Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spaghetti Bowl of Emotions: Walking the Messy Road of Grief

The Deep Dark Feelings of Grief (and loss of a precious child):

If I were to be completely honest, and I am being in this post, I would sometimes like to take a dinner plate (for instance) outside and smash it on the ground.  Oftentimes I want to scream.  Oh how my soul aches, cries out for, and just longs to hold and kiss and see my precious first-born.  In reality, I fully realize that this side of earth that will never happen again.  But the flesh and heart of me still misses Ethan.  The flesh of me (not the godly part) is angry.  The flesh of me dislikes our "new normal."  What is that anyway?  Nothing seems normal.  I walk around in a daze at times like I'm missing something.  My mind races and cannot stay focused on much of anything.  Reading the Bible has taken a place on the way back burner--this causes me great amounts of guilt, which in turn doesn't make me feel good at all.  After all, who feels good when they carry guilt?  I love my Savior as much as I ever have.  I don't choose to not read my Bible because I hold a grudge against Him.  That's not the case at all.  In fact, I hope and pray that those who I encounter and who read my blog will  accept Christ if they haven't.  I hope that my testimony and my terrible loss will show that--YES--you can go through a horrible, stinky, nasty, awful tragedy and STILL love Him with all of your heart, soul and mind.  YES you can!  However, just because I am a Christ-follower doesn't mean that I'm "happy go lucky" every day and there's a bed of roses around every single corner.  Or is there?

It's all in how we CHOOSE to look at our circumstances.  Do I feel "targeted" in some sort of way by God because of what happened?  No.  Do I walk around with a poor, pitiful me?  No (at least, I hope not).  Do I treat others like dirt and then use the excuse, well it's the grief and I just cannot help myself.  I don't think so (and please forgive me if I have).  We all have a story in HISstory.  Some of us have walked some really deep, dark valleys.   Others have never experienced much of a loss or trial.  But we all have a story.  We all hurt in different ways.  We must learn to not judge others and how they feel and process things.  We are all different.  YOU CANNOT PUT A TIMELINE ON GRIEF!

We cannot LET our circumstances dictate how we treat others.  We must still walk in grace and love toward others even if our life seems stinky and sad and hopeless at the moment.  I cannot sit here and use the loss of my precious son as a "freebie" to rip into people and tear them down.  That is not fair and it isn't godly.  I've had the experience in the past of being around others who had suffered a loss, and chose to be mean and use it as their excuse every single time they lashed out in anger.  Please don't do that.  Just lay those feelings at the Cross of Christ.  Lay it all down.  We need others more than ever when we walk through a loss.  It's not healthy to shove others out of our life with negative actions and attitudes.

We can, however choose thankfulness!  When we choose to thank Him for what we DO have, it sure changes those feeling from wanting to throw a dish to feelings of happiness and contentedness.

Some things that I have realized over the course of the past almost two years since Ethan met Jesus:

Beautiful Texas wildflowers in our countryside.
  • He is with Jesus, and in a far safer and better place than this scary world we live in.
  • Ethan didn't suffer.  Some poor children suffer from disease or illness.  He never did.
  • I had no eternal perspective.  Now it's all I think about.  Having a dear, loved one in heaven makes you realize this is NOT our home.  It's temporary.  I long for that day when this life will be gone and the new life in heaven will begin.  (No, I am not in a hurry to go Home, but I sure can't wait to meet Jesus and see Ethan again!)
  • I'm far better off than a lot of people in this world.  Going through this painful loss has given me a "thicker" skin so to speak.  I dare say that I can do anything on my own, but through Him I surely can.  
  • Fear is not of the Lord, it's from the enemy.  And the enemy (the devil) will creep into your life when you are weak and feed you lies.  Don't listen.  Instead pray to Jesus to removed the enemy completely.  Turn your thoughts on Him, and the fear will melt.
  • I'm tougher than I thought I was.  I can do HARD things.  Not of my own power, but with Him I certainly can.  
  • The loss of my son is the hardest goodbye I have ever had to say.  It's unlike any other loss there is.
  • No matter how hard I may try, I am forever changed and CANNOT be the same person I was before June 5, 2010.  Part of me has died, but there is a fighter within me that refuses to give up.  Therefore, I can choose to use my loss for His glory, or stay stuck in a rut and never move forward.  I want to use this for His glory.  But it takes a lot of TIME to mend, to heal, to process.  I'm not through this long process...not sure when I will be.
  • Some days there isn't much more I can do than just say a prayer and ask Jesus to hold me tight.  That's okay.
  • Grief is consuming and messes with your mind.  For example, I am way more forgetful and absent-minded that I can ever recollect.  I have to be extra careful and aware when driving.  Grief can "steal" your mind away--causing you to wandering off into other thoughts when you should be concentrating.  BE CAREFUL!
  • Trying to relive the night of the accident over in my mind hurts.  I think it is absolutely necessary to relive that moment a few times.  It helps to process and make it real.  But I do think there comes a point in time where it's unhealthy to relive that memory.  I try to focus on the memories that were wonderful. 
  • Crawling into my closet and shutting the door and sobbing on the ground like a baby is therapeutic, and I highly recommend it.  Those tears are a cleansing gift from God.  Use them!  Yes, it is very exhausting to cry, but it's necessary.
  • Keep all of the cards that thoughtful friends and family and neighbors (and even strangers) sent.  I get out the box of sympathy cards and re-read them about every six months.  Yes, I cry every time, but it's good for me, and though it may not be good for everyone, I would suggest holding onto those cards.  They are precious.
  • I've been blessed with two healthy and wonderful boys.  There are many happily married couple who cannot conceive.  They have never had the joy of bringing home a new baby.  For these two sons, I am blessed and thankful!  Thank you Lord!
  • Grief is harder on children than adults.  They do not understand their emotions to the extent that we do.  Much grace and patience is needed with a grieving child.  I have to be really careful to decipher between disobedience and grief hidden behind what might seem to be disobedience.  Grace.  Shower it upon them like Jesus.
  • We cannot move away from our problems or our grief.  Literally.  It follows you no matter what state, country, our continent you live in.  Grief is a must.  We cannot skip over it and pretend nothing happened.  
  • is a blessing.  I highly recommend connection with a group.  If one group doesn't work, there is perhaps another at a different church.  GriefShare groups are easy to find in larger metropolitan areas.  
  • Finding someone, or rather, letting the Holy Spirit provide friends that have been through similar circumstances, is one of the best blessings you could ever receive!  Sharing with someone who has walked down a similar path with you will help.  You will also gain a friend for life!

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  1 Peter 5:7


Karol said...

Praying with you Shannon. Thanks for being real in this post. We have good days, we have bad days and I am so grateful that we have a Lord who understands us on every day. God is good, my dear friend.

Tesha said...

Shannon, this is such a transparent and honest post. I ma so blessed by your words. I have to say your life is such a testimony to me. You have suffered great loss yet still are so soft. So many people become hardened in grief. I thin one key is like you said those healing tears. It confirmed to me what I was thinking earlier. I have not been able to cry fro a few days and I have avoided things that make me tear up. I felt deep anger rising in me....I think like you said there is healing in our tears. I love your thankful list it is so very beautiful :) I have heard of grief share before, I am going to look into it. Thank you for your beautiful honest open heart.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

This post is powerful. Your words speak of the depth of your pain yet they are full of strength and faith in God. ((HUGS))

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

grief is messy, follows no schedule, and does not end this side of heaven.

and is it ironic that i had forgotten the truth of grief exacerbating absentmindedness? ;)

praying for you today, dear shannon.


Heather@Cultivated Lives said...

Shannon, Wow. It was a huge blessing to read your thoughts here. Grief takes so many different twists and turns and looks different for each person. And I'm totally with you on grief making me yearn for heaven...

Anonymous said...

Shannon, I have no words to express the sadness I feel for you and your loss, and as a mother who has never experienced this kind of loss, I cannot even fathom it. But you are truly an amazing person and I'm glad that He holds you in His hands. I'll be praying for you my friend, you are an inspiration and true advocate for His never ceasing mercy and love!

Anna See said...

thank you for this post, shannon. it says so much of what i'm feeling. xoxo