Denial, sadness, guilt, depression, and then recovery.
That would be the simplest way to put it.
When I first heard my son Nathan had officially passed away, I knew it was a fact, a reality, but I did not completely comprehend it until 2 days later when I had my first real and uncontrollable meltdown about the situation. Afterwards, every day for about a month, I woke up in tears, spend most of my day in tears and went to bed in tears. I wanted to pretend it never happened, to forget it all so that I may once again see the bright side of things, strive be a help to those around me, an encouragement, and a blessing. Everything we had envisioned and planned to do on our first year on the mission field seemed to suddenly vanish. We were now faced with different circumstances and had to adjust quite fast to our new and unwanted situation.Yet, in all our feeble feeble attempts to move forward, all I could do was think of my son.
Colors. Animals. Sounds. Feelings. Pictures. Locations. Food.
Everything around me made me think of Nathan- I simply couldn't get away from it no matter how hard I tried to focus on other things.Every possible scenario happening around us would bring me back to the delivery room. I’d spend the next few moments dwelling on the events of that wonderful, yet horrible day- envisioning his pretty little face, feet and hands, reliving the moment when we received the news from the doctor that he had breathed his last breath, the moment of denial that followed, and the intense sadness it had lead to, and was continually happening.
That day and every detail of it is still as real and fresh in my mind as if it had happened a few moments ago.
So, you may ask, how did you ever get over it and move on?
Well, that is just it. I didn’t. I’ve learned you cannot “get over” something like this. It is an obstacle that must be gone through and lived through every day. Learning to live through it is what I’ve had to do, and what Stephen and I are still doing everyday.
I’ve chosen not to remove it from my mind, hoping to forget all about it. Instead, I try to rely on God for comfort when the reality and pain of the situation hits hard. I don't want to forget Nathan, to loose that memory, no matter the amount of pain that is attached with it- I just want to be able to Glorify and exalt God’s name through the situation. That is not a one time task- it is a daily struggle.
I’ve chosen to allow the pain of the memories to stay because they are also memories of joy. I’ve chosen not to forget because I don't want to forget how God worked such a miracle in my life, my husband’s life, and how he used our son’s short life to encourage others. Different things happening will make me cry, for what others may think to be no good and valuable reason at all. For those around us who do not know of our grief, they do not understand our sudden bursting into tears or our refusal to participate in certain activities because we are struggling through the day. They do not understand our want and need to sometimes talk or not talk about our loss. We have been trusted with this invisible burden which we will carry all our lives. This pas year, God has helped me through my many feelings of anger, anxiety, guilt and sadness- and He continually has to keep helping me through them. I’ve very often thought: “Could I have done anything to prevent this? Why me? I really don’t want to deal with these emotions today. What if it happens again? what if I never have another child? I just want to be normal and have children like everyone else, not bearing burdens”
I wouldn't wish this on anyone. I also wouldn't trade what has happened in my life through Nathan’s death because I’ve learned what it is like to live daily solely relying on God’s provisions, help, comfort and love. It has been the hardest journey and learning experience i’ve ever faced, but it has also been rewarding to my spirit and to my personal walk with the Lord.
Relying on Him as I seeked to find real joy again was a difficult task, and on certain days, it is still a difficult task.
As I am sure any mother would, I still long to hold Nathan, to put him to sleep, to wash his clothes and pick up his toys. I still imagine what our home would be like with a child’s fingerprints all over the walls, what it would be like to have completely different routine than the one we have at the present moment. But, with God’s help, I am not depressed about it. I have not let this situation change the course and plans God has for my life. I have refused to use it as an excuse to do nothing, to blame others for my circumstances, to ruin my marriage or to change the course of my life for the worse. I try to think and dwell on good things and to count my blessing instead of my losses.
You never forget these types of things, but you can be comforted through them. I can say God has truly comforted Stephen and I this past year. He has used so many to bring us joy, to make us think on Him and his goodness to us. It may have taken a little bit of time, but we eventually learned to laugh again! To all those who have helped us heal and have taken the time to pray, write, send packages and notes- thank you! Please, do keep praying for us- August 25th is a day we will have to face again very soon, and every year after, with the same emotions. Please pray the Lord gives us strength and comforts us again.
How very true Matthew 5:4 has been to us this past year.
“blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted”