Thursday, July 5, 2012


When I think about who we are becoming in this journey of loss, I recognize the myriad of things we have lost control over...the planning of our future, maintaining our innocence of loss, the safety of our family, our feelings, etc.  Then I consider what we do have control we will respond.  We have a choice -- and pretty much it boils down to choosing to survive (and even hoping to thrive), or remaining in despair.  Though we have to recognize that we will still experience feelings and waves of grief that will intertwine with our choice to keep living, we really do have a choice.

The truth is that people give us permission to stay there - in that raw state - because it is where they imagine they would be if placed in our shoes.  Before our loss, I would have imagined this, too.  Many may imagine that if they lost a child, they could never deal with it - that they would be lost - devastated beyond belief - possibly not wanting to move on themselves --- and though all of these are true at some level, they can't see beyond the loss to consider having to decide if/how they would try to learn to live each day afterward. 

Desperation/anger/bitterness/pain/sadness - all things that we have felt and are feeling - could describe who we become.  But those of us who have gone through loss can tell you that there comes a time when one has to decide if they are going to choose to be defined by those emotions or choose to survive them and, as oddly as it sounds, try to be BETTER because of their loss.  They realize that who they become is partly based on choice.  This choice is best made outside of those waves of grief - because when the grief is attacking, there is no energy to want to move forward.  The choice must already be made.  One must choose if they want to survive or not survive - be bitter, or be better - be angry at God, or cry out to him and tell him that we don't understand - accepting the love that he extends....for he knows that we just can't see what he sees.  

We are working to make good choices -- choosing to let go of those feelings of anger, bitterness, and sadness when they overtake - when it seems easy to want to be overcome -- because living in those feelings will not bring Isaiah back.  They will not help us change into who we need to become.  Isaiah needs to be what makes us BETTER.  If we allow our feelings to dictate who we become, then the wonderful gift of who he was/is will get lost.  Although people expect and give us permission to live out what those feelings represent, I don't think anyone wants to see us stay there.  Obviously God doesn't intend for us to live without hope - with our eyes focused on what was seen instead of on what is unseen - defined by what has happened to us instead of by how we will learn to appreciate the healing path ahead.

[I do want to interject here that choice I speak of is related to the waves of grief-filled or depressed feelings - not long term depression.  If facing true, long term depression and the helplessness that it brings, one needs to understand and treat it as needed.  God obviously perfectly understands depression - and David in the Bible and many others went through it.  The point of all of this is to say that sometimes I know we can't make the choice to exit depression.  Though periods of depression may come during the grief process, grief and depression cannot be considered one and the same - and I am not trying to do that here.]

The other choice we are faced with is the choice to face our feelings or not.     

Many people tell me how impressed they are by my faith in God and his Word.  I can tell you that this is not by my strength.  Yes, it is a choice to have faith, but all glory needs to be given to God - for it is He that has upheld me - and this is the only way I have survived.  God has not only saved me from sin and death, but from the pit of despair...for all I know to do is cling to him.  I continually try to renew my thoughts in the Lord - especially when I feel attacks of any of those aforementioned feelings.  It wasn't until the past few weeks that I have realized that along with the choice to survive, I also need to make the choice to feel - even the feelings that I initially thought might be displeasing to God.  I'm still working on this.  I so want to honor God through my grief - but I am realizing that grief isn't pretty - and God knows this - and it's okay.

We could decide to gloss over our feelings as they come, or we could choose to fully feel them when they arise -- to allow them to affect us so that we can work through them and struggle with the injustice of this loss in order to find peace.  If we try to ignore or stuff these feelings...telling ourselves that because we know that God is ultimately working all circumstances together for good - and convince ourselves that we can continue living our lives like we did before our loss with our hands and eyes raised to God without paying due attention to the sadness or disappointment we are feeling - in hopes that we can overcome our grief with only "our faith"...we are living a lie.  God created our emotions.  He created the grief process.  Living out our faith in our own strength will not get us through this - HE will.  If we ignore those feelings, they will eventually rise up and devour us.  We need to deal with them - through His strength - as they come.  

We have a choice.  How will this loss change us?  The choice to ignore the feelings is just as bad as the choice to choose to live in the mire of despair.  Though we may have to go through both at times - it is through our choices (and God's strength) that we will stay there or not.  God can handle our questions and cries - our fists in the air because we just can't understand it all.  And when that wave passes - whether with a peaceful heart or through tears or anger - I will continue to praise our God - because he is worthy.  For the glory of Christ and in honor of our son's life - I will choose to feel and choose to survive.  It is what we have to do to be better.


  1. C.S. Lewis, in "A Grief Observed", wrote that to him, grief felt an awful lot like fear. I imagine it's natural to want to run when you feel afraid: I applaud you and Matt for standing your ground. I know that right now, that ground is soaked in tears, it's muddy and messy . . . but Jesus is there with you.
    It's wonderful to imagine your Isaiah in the 'cloud of witnesses' who have gone on before us, cheering you on in your race.
    Much love you to all, friend.

    1. Thanks, Allie - I need to pull that book out again. I read it in college during my CS Lewis class, but I know how much significance it would have now. Guess I need to add it to the stack. ;)

    2. I re-read it around the anniversary of my father's death, this last March. It's helped me see grief in a different way . . . because I lost my dad, he lost his wife, you lost your son, but we all grieve. Grief is grief.
      The book is a short one: not exactly a quick read, but it's only 4 chapters so you feel accomplished when you finish it. ;-)

  2. Beautiful, true post! I have felt and do feel so much of what you described. They say grief is hard work.....your doing a good job! Saying a prayer for you now!