People ask me how I continue to do it? How do I go on without Noah? The title above sums up my life because it’s literally how I have to do this.
I got an email from a woman who recently lost her mom unexpectedly. To protect her situation and identity, I won’t share the details of her email, but I will share some of what I wrote to her in response to the question of how to heal because in writing it, God showed me that I don’t have to be whole in order to encourage others…
I am so sorry that your mother died. I am sorry you guys don’t get to talk everyday. I am sorry that your heart and so many others around you even have to experience sadness and loss.
Please forgive me because I don’t want to come across as trying to tell you and your family how to grieve. The reality is there is no ‘right’ way to grieve and there isn’t only one way. The truth is no one but God understands your heart. Your brother and sister had different relationships with your mom than you did. Your dad had a different relationship with his wife, your parents with their daughter, your kids with their grandmother, not to mention your mom’s siblings and her friends, colleagues, etc. I am grateful that early on Jason and I realized that even though we shared the blessing of being Noah’s parents, we were both going to experience loss differently. In light of this, it has allowed us to see that each day will be different and that some days he’ll be down and I’ll be hopeful, and other days it will be reversed, and we have to allow each other to ‘do’ one day at a time.
After reading your email I was so sad because you seem to be bearing the weight of everyone’s grief, and that is not your job. I also wonder if everyone expects this of you or if you feel responsible for everyone’s hearts? The thing with sadness and grief is that the emotions are real and quite raw, but when they are stuffed or stifled from being able to be felt in a healthy way, bitterness and depression take root, and those feelings are more difficult to live with than the grief.
(This stood out to me because I see that many people often feel responsible to help others through their grief when they are in need of walking their own journey through it. As a result, their healing is pushed to the back burner and often times never is addressed. Another thing that came to my mind is that when we try to keep people ‘happy’ or cheered up, rather than allowing true feelings and emotions to run their course, it stifles healing. When we feel compelled to cheer others instead of sitting quietly with them while they have a good cry, what we are saying is that their feelings make us uncomfortable.)
Anyway, the other day my sister looked at me and asked me how I do it everyday. We had just walked into Noah’s nursery which is still set up for resale purposes. She asked if it killed me to not have his room changed. I told her that I don’t go in there often, but sometimes I will, just to look at his cute blanket, or sit in the rocker to pray, or to look in his closet at the cute clothes. I have his pictures in my Bible, along with his footprints and hand prints stamped on one of the last pages. The way I do it everyday is only with God’s strength. Honestly, if I hadn’t drawn close to God in Noah’s sickness and in his death, I would have wanted to stop living myself. I suppose that is still my choice as it is yours and everyone around you, but that is what the devil wants us to do…if we will fear death, get angry at God, and stop living life with purpose, the devil wins. I know you said that you believe in God, so let me tell you this, LITERALLY, God cares that you lost your mom, that your heart misses her every minute of everyday. He gets it. The thing about God that I didn’t know earlier in my walk with Him is that He’s not a big thing in the sky that has no vested interest in the lives of His creation. He feels our sadness because the Bible says that Jesus was tempted with everything that mankind was ever tempted with. The Lord also feels our pain because He didn’t want us to have to experience death. (Jesus didn’t stuff his real emotions when Lazarus died. He bawled.)
Loss is important to remember. Your mom will ALWAYS be your mom! Noah will always be my son, whether he is in Heaven or in my physical arms, that relationship won’t ever change, the location did, though. There will always be things that remind you of your mom. When those times come to me, like today at church I heard a new baby cry, I couldn’t stop my own tears. I have heard babies cry countless times since Noah died. I allowed myself to miss him and then I thanked God for Noah. When those times come, allow yourself to remember and your kids to remember. Art works for Emily as well as looking at pictures and talking to God about Noah…For me, writing my blog, Noah’s book, and sharing his story with others has helped me with my healing and given me eternal perspective. What will help you, only you will know.
From what I gather from your email and your relationship with your mom, she died loved. To be loved is a powerful thing and to give love is difficult but so fulfilling.
(There was a bit more I shared. As I walk this path, I pray others will be encouraged to face grief and walk through it, knowing that it’s not a road that has to be walked alone but that with the Lord, it is possible to put one foot in front of another, one day at a time.)