Today's guest writer is Andrea Maher. Andrea is an author and speaker and radio talk show host. Andrea shares today about the pain and grief she experienced after losing her son and how God has helped her to grieve with hope.
I don’t think there’s anything more devastating and unnatural than to lose a child. When I received the shocking news that my oldest son had suddenly passed away, I struggled for a long time to make sense of my skewered vision. It was as if on Dec. 15, 2005, a haze fell over my eyes, and all that I had taken for granted about my surroundings suddenly became a foggy, fuzzy, incomprehensible landscape.
The first year I functioned virtually on autopilot. When I finally landed, I was stuck and perplexed by the heart-wrenching question of how this could be.
The death of a loved one, particularly your child, changes everything. It is an illogical, incongruent notion for a parent to bury a child – out of step with the natural order for life.
The whole family dynamic is changed. A void is created, which redefines everyday life and produces a dread of future momentous occasions without that person present. You view the world differently through tear-stained eyes.
I have learned to cope with the huge, hollow, aching space in the pit of my stomach. It can never be filled for the rest of my time here on earth. I face each new day with an abiding sadness of missing my son. I long to hear his voice, catch a glimpse of his smile or share some meaningful moment with him.
Intensifying my anguish, in the most immediate days after his death, was the painful reality that his 4-month-old daughter would never know her father. But as I was privileged to assist in the baby-sitting responsibilities for my granddaughter, a paradoxical miracle took place within my heart: where a shoot of joy was planted alongside the shoot of grief. These two opposing emotions were cultivated in me, and somewhere in the process their branches have become intertwined and will forever be a part of one another.
And it is with that present-comforting reality all these years later, that my heart breaks even more deeply for those who who have lost a child and are left with only the emptiness of their broken hearts, a vacant chair, or a bedroom frozen in time. I want to encourage you, as you bear this heavy cross that one day you will have a future with your child and –that future--will be for all eternity -- making this season of our lives seem like a vapor. Hold onto the vision of where your child resides and remember that they are in perfect peace in the most beautiful surroundings with our living God. All of the senselessness from our earthly view will make sense one day from the heavenly perspective.
And yes, grief can be like a tidal wave drowning your every thought and leaving you feeling paralyzed, helpless, and without control. Hold onto the life preserver of our hope in Christ and do not get pulled under. Remember we are unlike those who grieve without hope. We have hope and His name is Jesus. We may not feel at peace about our situation, but we can surely feel Jesus’s peace in our situation.
I have learned more about God’s faithfulness through my loss and you will too. He has chosen to take me into a deep, dark valley; and in it I have met him more personally and intimately. There have been many hard and difficult times, but it is my prayer that I will continue to face them with my heart and mind focused on eternal matters … for after all, it is in that eternal place that we will meet our children once again.
Andrea Maher is the former editor-in chief of PARENT ABC’s, a monthly magazine dedicated to helping parents navigate the everyday concerns of family life. She is the author of the newly released book, SLAMMED: Overcoming Tragedy in the Wave of Grief, A Survival Guide She has been married to her husband, John, for 40 years and are the parents of four sons, and enjoy their six grandchildren in Cape May, New Jersey where they reside. You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.