Light at the end of the Tunnel

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I went for a walk this morning on the River’s Edge Trail, which runs along the bank of the Missouri River.  The leaves were glowing a brilliant yellow and several birds flew ahead of me along the way – a magpie, a robin and a chickadee.  The way the sun hit the trees on top of the hill and how it caused the foilage at the side of the trail to glow took my breath away.  I am almost overwhelmed at times with the beauty of God’s creation.  Since losing my son in 2014, I see things with different eyes.  I went on a walk with a friend who also lost a son, and we agreed that it’s almost like layers have been peeled away and everything we see is blindingly beautiful compared to how we saw it before.

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There have been many days over the last year, however, when I have been engulfed in darkness.  I have experienced the dark night of the soul and experienced pain so intense that I just couldn’t stand being me.  During the first year after losing Christian, I did what one of my grief books recommended, which was to lean into the grief.  This meant that I cried the tears I needed to cry and felt what I needed to feel.  I leaned on God constantly, read His word more than once a day for a while, and prayed often.  He has done a great healing in me that I will never forget.

The darkness set in during the second year.  Taking care of my youngest son, Andrew, although difficult to do while processing the tragedy of losing Christian, gave me purpose and something to focus on.  I still felt important and needed.  When I returned to work after over 10 years, everything I had ever believed about myself was dramatically changed. All of a sudden my husband was taking care of Drew, cooking meals and cleaning the house – things I have done since we married in 1992.  Suddenly I had no idea who I was.

Rather than turning to God in prayer and to His Word and reaching out to supportive friends, I turned inward and started defining myself by how the world viewed me and by what I did each day.  I felt unimportant and lost.  I stopped blogging because of the fear of what people would think if they knew I was in so much pain.  I didn’t want to be a downer by writing about the darkness and sadness.

The truth is that without darkness, we are unable to learn what needs to be brought into the light and healed.  The pain and difficulty we endure becomes life experience, and although we would rather aviod it, we can use it to help others.  Sharing my broken heart can actually help someone else who is going through their own personal tragedy.

As much as I want to be done grieving, I am not.  As Marianne Williamson states in Tears to Triumph, “it (grief) is a process – not an event- best served when we surrender to it fully.  Grief allows us to process incrementally what might be too shocking to the system to have to process all at once.”  Tears are nothing to be ashamed of, especially when they are for someone we cherished and loved so much who is not longer with us.  They wash away layers from the heart and help us to see everything with new eyes.  As I continue to cross this vast sea of grief, I will share the lessons learned and the things that God wants to show me in hopes that I can help others know that no matter how deep the sadness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

What went right?

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Do you ever have one of those days when everything is wrong?  You spill your coffee on your favorite shirt, burn your toast and just about back into a car on the way out of the driveway.  I had one of those days.  I had all sorts of ideas and ambitions flying though my mind like fireworks, but anytime I tried to act on them I froze.  I want my grief to subside.  Now.  But what would the purpose be if it did?  As painful and uncomfortable as grief can be, it is changing me for the better.  I know God has good plans in store for me and He will help me to continue the love, kindness and courage that Christian emulated during his 21 years on this earth.  I do have to heal first and as they say, time is the great healer.

Instead of focusing on everything that went wrong, which including feeling and acting like Oscar the Grouch, starting a blog post earlier today that just didn’t flow at all. not being able to stay awake for even 3 pages of a novel, I will close this day focusing on what went right.

The sun came up…

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Many birds came to my feeders even though I didn’t go outside to fill them…

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I was able to prepare a delicious, healthy meal for my family…

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My son, despite his pain today, smiled…

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The best thing we can do

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We cannot give away what we have not first received. We must be gentle and kind to ourselves before we can be with others. We have to be patient with ourselves and our own progress before we can be patient and understanding with everyone else. We must give our all to God and to ourselves before we can give our all to everything we set out to do. Lets make sure we do at least one thing everyday that we can feel really good about, whether its writing a letter, going to a coffee shop to read and relax, or having our nails or hair done.

The truth is, before we can do anything worthwhile, we must first love ourselves, hug ourselves; make peace a part of our everyday lives. Let’s stop feeling like we are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with us because no matter what we do or how hard we try, someone will always be unhappy.