If you have a new grief you will not want to read any further than this first paragraph. Having you read this would be akin to giving you chopsticks and asking you to carve a turkey. It’s just not the right tool for the job. This post is for seasoned grievers. And even then, they will want to proceed with caution. I say this because when these ideas were proposed to me too early in my grief by a well-meaning counselor, I yelled out “Noooooo!” It took several noooo’s before I was ready. Then, at the appointed time, the Holy Spirit gently and graciously gave me ears to hear these merciful truths. It was not traumatic, but healing. Only you will know when that is true for you.
In lieu of reading further, listening to this 20-minute message on our resource page may bless you.
Grief Round Two
I didn’t know that there was a second goodbye. I thought the first goodbye was enough to ask of me. Mourning and lament for the loss of my son and this story we found ourselves in was a school I never wanted to be enrolled in. The first goodbye involved figuring out how to heal from the trauma of finding our son dead. I had physical symptoms of involuntary seizure-like movements whenever I would have flashbacks. It took EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and many counseling sessions just to navigate that. It’s not over yet, but it’s calmed down to the intermittent thunderstorm.
I don’t know how or when the second goodbye happened. But I remember the result. I was humming to myself and my feet did a triple step and I thought, wait, this is weird. I feel. I feel something I haven’t felt since Tristan died. I feel… hopeful. And it almost felt wrong to think the word “hopeful”. Earlier in my grief, after my trauma began to heal, I had experienced emotions other than just sorrow. Over time I was able to laugh with my kids, and get excited about their endeavors, and be truly interested in my husband’s pursuits. But it was always with the gravity of death-sorrow holding its hand over my head–this far you shall rise, and no further! I had never, ever, felt genuinely hopeful.
I had to sit with this new experience for a while and try to figure out how it happened. I wasn’t sure it was going to last and I’m still not sure. It’s still too new. But I wanted to share with you how I think it got here because I think it’s something with which every mom struggles.
Stewarding Our Children
When we became their mom, God instilled in us a stewardship that meant we would forever be taking the count 1,2,3,4, okay everybody’s here. When we were out at the park, 1,2,3,4. Moving through a mall, 1,2,3,4. At any crowded event, 1,2,3,4. All accounted for. We were their lifeline, their protector, their cheerleader. We nursed, taught, hoped, cried, watched, dreamed, applauded, and cherished them.
I’ve said before that our stewardship was like that precious perfume that Mary anointed Jesus with. When our child died, the supply was exhausted and there was not a single drop left. The bottle was shattered, and we sat there looking at the broken pieces on the floor and trying to put the bottle back together again. It just didn’t make sense. This was our job!
It felt wrong after a lifetime of being in charge of my boy, to turn Tristan over to someone else. Which sounds crazy, because he’s not even here. But God gave him to me in stewardship. And I didn’t want my job to be over. Admitting it’s over would be like losing him all over again. I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t even go near it. I lost him once. Please, please, don’t make me lose him again.
The Third Season
As I thought back over my journey I realized my first season of grief was trying to heal from trauma. My second season of grief was missing my son. And now I had come to a third season of grief and it seemed to be realizing it was time to say goodbye to my stewardship.The only reason I could go against what God had designed me to do, was because my son was with the One who gave him to me to steward.
Eventually, I realized that God’s care was way better than my care. But mostly what helped was this thought— can’t I trust my all-wise Creator to know when my job has ended? “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I imagined God to be saying. It’s My turn now.
God was with me in the first goodbye. He is revealing this second, necessary goodbye and I am so scared, so scared. But, God entrusted me with the most precious gift of my son’s life. The least I can do for My Heavenly Father, Abba, would be to trust Him back.
Abba, my Father, Sometimes I want to sit with my broken perfume bottle and try to put all the pieces back together again. I miss my boy so much. I loved being his mom. I can’t believe my job is over, I just can’t believe it. Being his mom was my favorite thing to do! But that was a gift from You, and if You have taken it away I can trust You. You’re all I have! To whom else would I go? Who else has the words of life? Take care of my boy. I feel silly saying that to You, but it’s how I feel. Take care of him until I can run into Your arms and we can all hug together. Save me from myself. In Jesus’ name, Amen.