The pain we survivors face is both terrifying and relentless in its thirst to threaten our very existence. You have your story, as I have mine. Our grief journeys are as alike as they are different. Please feel free to share bits of your story to bless us all.
When I got word that my firstborn had taken his life, I thought my heart would stop. Shock set in. Like a boat in a storm, I came loose from my moorings and set adrift. As the tide carried me farther and farther out to sea, my anchor came loose and sank out of sight. Pelted with rain my compass slipped from my wet hand, and it, too, sank from sight. The fierce wind tore at my sail until it was shredded and useless. How long would I be tossed about by the gigantic waves? Would I survive? Would I see land again? Would I ever be moored safely in my harbor once more?
The little boat analogy may not make sense to you, but it is my attempt to describe how I felt in the throes of fresh grief. The pain of suicide had never touched my life in any way before 2005. Now I was in the grip of it. I was to become well acquainted with the smothering, horrific pain my heart had never felt before; a pain so harsh that it defied description. If grief became my anchor, as the quotes above suggest, then it definitely weighed me down. And yet, my son was no longer too heavy to carry. Light as a feather I carry him forever in my heart.
In these days of our lives, when the sorrow of loss can feel enormous, is there hope? If so, what gives us hope? I am reminded of a campaign slogan, “Hope and Change,” which was repeated often in the months leading up to the U.S. election in 2004. It was what we were promised, remember? Those words filled us with hope for a brighter future, did they not? Was our former President able to accomplish his promises? Did he bring about hope and change? Our answers are likely divided along party lines, but should they be? Isn’t it a human condition to desire hope? Is there even one human on earth, sitting President or otherwise, who is able to offer hope for hurting hearts in our world today? Maybe not. Perhaps we should look higher.
I’d like to share a paragraph with you from a devotional by John Eldredge:
“We are used to thinking of the great movements of history, even the movements in our immediate relationships, as being impersonal, if not arbitrary. But with God, who notes the fall of every sparrow, the events of our lives are thoughtfully and thoroughly orchestrated to bring about our redemption. The days of our lives were ordered and numbered before there was one of them, says the psalmist (139:16). And yet, the ways of his redemption often leave us trembling and fearful. ‘Do you really care for me, God?'”
The quote includes the question, “Does God care?” Does He care that I am in pain? Does He promise hope and change? Will He deliver? It is my belief that He will. It seems like it’s taking “forever” for us to be reunited with our precious children again, but it will happen just as He promised (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
I know that I will never have the mind of God or understand His ways (Isaiah 55:9). Only in heaven will I get all of my questions answered, where my God will unravel the mystery surrounding my firstborn’s death. Families together again, as if for the first time, will have joy without sadness, peace without pain, abundant health without a hint of disease, and best of all, never-ending life without death. Until heaven, God is my hope and anchor.
“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” Hebrews 6:19a
I love the song The Anchor Holds by Ray Boltz and Arthur Jackson; the lyrics fit my loss and grief. I share the first verse and chorus with you. You may listen to the entire piece on YouTube.
“I have journeyed through the long dark night. Out on the open sea. By faith alone, sight unknown, and yet his eyes were watching me. The anchor holds though the ship’s been battered. The anchor holds though the sails are torn. I have fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas, the anchor holds in spite of the storm.”
Quote by Sarah Dessen, “The Truth About Forever”
Quote by John Eldredge, Ransomed Heart Ministries
Scripture from New Living Translation (NLT)