Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Death, Grief, and Moving On


Seven months have passed since my daughter Lindsay died. Hard to believe it’s been that long, though even harder to grasp the time’s fleeting compared to the years that lie ahead without her.
In those first weeks after her death, waking up each morning and just breathing hurt. On the nights I slept, Lindsay was still alive. I’d have conversations with her, but she always seemed just beyond my grasp. The more I reached for her, the more elusive she became, until finally I awoke. Then reality crashed down on me, and grief flooded in. She was gone.
My whole life, I’ve heard the verse, “Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). The meaning is, for Christians, death isn’t an end but a beginning. But it’s only a beginning for the deceased.
The sting is for those left behind. An unrelenting sting that pierces the depths of your soul. Losing a child means part of you has ended—like closing a door never to be re-opened. It’s not so much the legacy most of us reflect on as we reach middle or old age that’s lost. Lindsay’s hopes and dreams that blossomed as she grew from a little girl into a woman—along with our hopes and dreams for her—will never bear the fruit they were meant to.
I appreciate the encouragement of people who’ve continued to reach out to us and include us in their prayers. Isolation in grief is not healthy and leads to depression, but I’ve found most of the time I do best by myself. I don’t have to pretend or engage in conversation. I don’t have to answer the question, “How are you?” I understand people are genuinely concerned, and I love them for it, but it’s a question with an ever-changing answer.
So I usually respond, “I’m okay,” which really means I’m up, functioning, and doing the best I can, which sometimes is fairly good, depending on the day.
But I’m not okay and never will be…and that’s okay.
See, I don’t have to be okay for life to go on. I wake up each day grateful that I’m one step closer to eternity—one step closer to seeing Lindsay again—one step closer to my Savior and living the life I’m supposed to be living. Not the temporary one in this fallen, beat-up world.
Or as the Apostle Paul said, “…to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).”
This is another verse that became more vivid for me in the wake of Lindsay’s passing. For the first time, I can feel Paul’s angst of being torn between this life on earth—where much is still to be accomplished for God’s glory—and going on to heaven where life is no longer a struggle.
But until He calls me home, I’ll continue to get up each day and seek God’s will for my life, and continue the process of grieving with my family.
Just as we got through the “first” holidays in November and December without Lindsay, other “first” milestones will be marked in the coming months—her birthday and Mother’s Day in May, Father’s Day in June, and then the anniversary of her death in August. To say I dread them is an understatement, but at the same time, her beautiful life should be celebrated. Her birth made me a mother. Likely, I’ll go out to the cemetery on her birthday, sit on the stone bench atop the hill overlooking her grave, reminisce…and cry.
And that’s okay. Tears are God’s provision for managing grief. Tears dredge up your deepest pain and bring it to the surface like dross. You scrape away the pain in those moments and then gather your strength to go on and live another day.
Meanwhile, Lindsay’s backpack sits in her room. Waiting to be unpacked. One day. Occasionally, I go through the clothes in her closet, my fingertips seeking her favorite shirts, or drawing a scarf close to my cheek, closing my eyes and drinking in her scent that lingers…for how much longer? For now, I don’t worry about it…her physical imprint is still here.
Someday, maybe I’ll be able to say my heartbreak has lessened. Today is different than seven months ago, or even two months ago, and it will be different two years from now…but broken hearts never truly mend. Especially when one of the broken pieces is buried.
Life has moved on…and yet it will always be the day we lost her. In a weird sort of way, time stood still. The calendar will always seem to read August 27, because that is the day her laughter stopped and we were left with only memories. 

In our grief, God has shown us compassion, showered us with His mercies, and given us hope to sustain. We continue to walk the path laid before us, and we thank you for your prayers and encouraging thoughts along the way. God has truly blessed us through both.
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The
Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him.
Lamentations 3:19-25 
If you’re going through grief or experiencing difficult times, I’d love to pray for you. Please leave a comment or email me confidential requests.
Because of His faithfulness,
Laura

25 comments:

  1. I hear your pain. We lost a granddaughter of 18 months. She spent her first year in the hospital and when she was released, it was to go home to meet the rest of her family, and to pass. She passed on December 27. In this life, we will never know why God allowed such prolonged suffering of an innocent baby. But we are now moving on.

    I love what you've got on your website, and will return again, soon! Happy to meet you.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing about your granddaughter. You're right. We never know why this side of heaven. Happy to meet you too. Look forward to getting to know you better. God bless.

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  2. Oh Laura. As hard and everything else as this likely was to write, it is beautiful. Listening to you cling to our true hope even amid the intense pain is a shining light that points straight to Jesus. While we are breathing there is still work to be done. And today my friend this piece was part of it. Thank you for sharing your heart with us-both of them. <3 Lifting you before the very capable hands of our Savior...

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    1. Thank you, Christy. I really appreciate the prayers and your beautiful words. God bless you.

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  3. Your expressive writing is exquisite, Laura. I can only pray that God will continue to grant you the courage to keep going, day by day, moment by moment, in His grace. Thank you for sharing the depths of your heart. <3

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    1. Thank you, Kathleen. You have been a good friend in this horrible journey. I appreciate your encouragement. God bless.

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  4. Laura you, Josh, James and Lindsay come to my heart often when I hear worship music. Not sure why but felt I needed to share that. You all remain in my prayers. I do have a prayer request: Found out late last night that my cousin who I am very close to has esophageal cancer and possibly liver cancer. We would appreciate prayers. Thanks and God Bless. (his name is dicky williams)

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    1. Thanks for sharing that, Betty. I appreciate your prayers and friendship. I'm sorry to hear about your cousin. I'll be praying for healing and comfort for Dicky. God bless you.

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  5. Laura,
    Your pain and heartache, yet always hope, shine through in your words. I know when I read your stories I will ALWAYS have tears running down my cheeks, as I do now. You have suffered a pain that will never go away; I love how you said pieces of your heart never mend when one is no longer there - truly beautiful and oh-so-true! I am proud of your faith and strength, whereas I know I would falter. Love you and love that you can express yourself so eloquently and be there for others who are grieving and lost. Love you!
    Brenda Kay

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    1. Thank you for sharing from your heart, Brenda. I love you too! I don't know what I'd do without friends like you to encourage me. God bless you.

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  6. I so get this. I are grieving the loss of my son-in-law and stepdaughter killed tragically in a car wreck Jan 30 - we are reeling with grief for ourselves and our 3 grand kids - isolation is chasing me these days - I've even avoided church because I don't want to answer the questions �� I'm more homesick for heaven than ever now. My grief is multilayered - watching my grandkids hurt - my sons - my husband - my own - it's simply unbearable some days. All I can do is sit in my closet and pray and cry - and read my bible. I'm so sorry for your loss. I cling to the hope that one day God will fill all the holes in my heart. ��

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    1. Melanie, I can relate to everything you've said. I have missed some church, too, because it is just too painful at times. My grief is also multi-layered, for myself, Lindsay, my husband, and son. And yes, it is unbearable at times, but God's comfort sustains me in those moments. I'll be praying for you and your family. God bless you all.

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  7. I just lost my brother about 3 weeks ago and the verse I cling to is Psalms 139:16. Our days are numbered before we are born and since God's love for us is perfect, he has a perfect reason for taking us at His appointed time. (Perfect love casts out fear, 1 John 4:18) We have to trust God's sovereignty and understand that he knows what he is doing. He is close to the broken hearted. (Psalm 34:18) He sees and understands your pain and I will pray you will feel his presence and comfort in the days ahead. Surround yourself with your memories of her and let the love you showed her be your peace as it was the only control you had over her life.

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    1. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the verses. I love Psalm 139. It has been a go-to passage for me for years, but even more so now. Thank you for the prayers, as well. I'll be praying for God to comfort you in your grief.

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  8. You are still in my prayers, whenever I see your name on Facebook. Your writing is eloquent and sad. Sending hugs! ❤

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    1. Thank you, Norma. I appreciate your friendship and prayers. God bless you.

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  9. We lost our 35 year old precious daughter July 24th 2016, and I can so relate to all you have written. You have spoken for my broken heart. Thank you

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    1. I am so sorry about your daughter. My heart breaks for you and your family. Nothing prepares you for such heartache, but I'm grateful the Lord has walked with us through this awful trial. You'll be in my prayers.

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  10. Love you. I can't imagine how much it hurts.

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  11. Laura, this is such a beautiful testimony to your faith. Thank you for sharing. I'm going to share this on my ministry page, Seeing Beyond the Veil to strengthen others in their grief. Love you sweet friend.

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    1. Thank you, Nan. I really appreciate you sharing this with your readers. Love you too. God bless you and your ministry.

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  12. This is so encouraging! May God continue to uphold and comfort your heart. Wish you had a pin button but I'll tweet. You're blessed!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you were encouraged by the post. There is a small Pinterest button at the bottom of the post, along with Twitter and Google Plus. Thank you so much for tweeting. God bless you.

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