Grief sucks. Really bad.
I couldn’t imagine how my grief could get much worse or how in the world God would even allow more tragedy to strike my new family.
But He did.
This series is my story about the loss of my firstborn son and how my faith in God grew in the process. If you have just happened upon this post, you can find the rest of my story here.
During the time that Joshua Caleb was fighting for his life, my mother-in-law was fighting for hers. She had become very sick, and just a few days prior to Joshua’s death, we got some very bad news from her doctor. She had stomach cancer and it was aggressive and growing quickly. She had gotten to where she couldn’t eat, so a few days after Joshua’s funeral, they decided to put her in the hospital to insert a feeding tube.
Following the surgery, I recall that we were all in her room, standing around because there were no seats. It was standing room only. Joyce (my mother-in-law) was awake and talking with us all, and then she suddenly quit talking to us, as she gazed off into the corner of the room.
She began fussing at her mother saying, “Move out of my way, Momma! I’m trying to see Jesus!” Of course, her momma moved right away, but we were all left standing there stunned. A little while later, she was talking to her father who had passed away 8 years earlier, “Are the flowers beautiful, Daddy?” At the time, we thought the medication was too much for her.
Looking back, we believe this was true to her reality, as she was preparing to go meet our Father in Heaven.
Things got worse.
Following the surgery, she was going in and out of consciousness and they decided to move her to ICU the next day. Within a few days, we found ourselves sitting around a big table in a conference room at the hospital with a big decision looming over our head. My husband and I worked collectively with his sister and grandmother to decide what to do with the two options that were explained to us. Neither of the two was good.
Of course, we were all sad, heartbroken and in disbelief, but I think numb might be the right emotion at that moment. The fact was that her body was failing her and heroic measures would only prolong the inevitable. We knew she would not have any quality of life at this point. She had already been suffering for a long while.
Without a doubt, we were all confident about what she would want us to do at this moment. I can’t tell you how excited she was to get to meet Joshua, and when he left this planet, she was ready to go too. We went and said our goodbyes to her, held her hand, kissed her cheek, and waited.
We walked out of that hospital early the next morning, just 10 days after Joshua passed away, and 10 days before Christmas, knowing she was celebrating wholeness with the Lord and we were fixing to go through our favorite day of the year, with not just one loss, but two major losses.
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Once again, we all had a meeting with the same funeral home to make the arrangements. My husband and I were only 22 and 20 years old, and yet, within 10-days’ time, we had planned 2 funerals within our first year of marriage.
In my little bit of faith, I continued to believe that God would give us the strength to get through this major loss and as well. After all, it’s in the Word of God. We just have to love Him, seek Him, and ask Him for His help.
The Holy Spirit is the best comforter during times of loss. We looked to Him and He was there. Just like at Joshua’s funeral, we were able to get through Joyce’s funeral with a peace that surpasses all understanding.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”Matthew 5:4
Just a little something to ponder …
We were heartbroken. In my grief, I was also heartbroken for Joe, his sister, and their grandmother. At this point in our story, we had no idea how the loss of my mother-in-law and Joshua would impact our lives. We knew they were huge losses and it wouldn’t be easy. And not only was it during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but it all happened in our first year of marriage too.
Grief sucks. It does. Really bad.
Nobody can tell you how to grieve a loss. Nobody can tell you, it should be over in 2 months or 2 years. Nobody. I don’t even remember Christmas that year. I do remember trying to make it special because it was our first one together in marriage, but in all honesty, I just got through it. We just got through it. There were good days and bad days.
The one thing I had to learn was that grief was a process, and it can be a long one too.
Eventually, life resumes to some kind of normal, but I had to accept that it’s just a NEW kind of normal.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:38
As the years have passed, holidays are still difficult, but it is a different kind of difficult. I am at a place 25 years later, where God has revealed wonderful things to me, as a result of our loss. But I can honestly say that every single Christmas as I’m hanging our stockings up I miss hanging Joshua’s up. Every single year when I shop for gifts, I think about never having the opportunity to shop for him.
Yes, I still remember. I still miss him. But it’s different now.
I remember what God has done in our lives, and how He is always faithful… and certainly how He redeems what the enemy steals from us. I am joyful, as a result, because I know what the Lord has done, and more importantly, this catapults me to a place where I can more easily choose to trust Him despite what things look like right this minute.
I thank the Lord for His love and comfort. Nothing will separate us from His love. Nothing. He loves us with an unconditional, all-encompassing, everlasting love. A love I can’t even hardly fathom. Nothing I do or have done will ever change His love for me or you. He just wants us to choose to love Him and seek Him first in all things.
If you are struggling with grief or loss, here are some resources to help you through your struggle.
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