When grief days hit you unexpectedly hard
We had a pretty significant anniversary this past weekend. 11 years ago on November 4, our 10 year old son, Seth, was killed in a car accident. 11 years doesn’t seem like a significant number but the entire weekend a few days ago was lining up to be the same way it was 11 years before. Let me explain…Seth was at a soccer game on that day. He was with 2 of his brothers and our wonderful babysitter for the weekend. Our sitter’s brother was the goalie for the soccer team that was playing so she wanted to take the boys with her and watch her brother play. What 13, 10, and 8 year old boy wouldn’t want to go!! Our team won the State Soccer Championship game that day. Everyone was so excited and happy for them – including our boys.
After the game our boys were still hyper and running around as normal. On their way to the car as he was running across the street, Seth was hit by a passing car. It was a complete accident. The driver wasn’t at fault. Our babysitter certainly was not at fault. It was just a horrible, terrible mistake by a 10 year old excited little boy. He was rushed to the hospital and we met him there. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say we knew that our little boy was already gone. His body and heart just kept on working and fighting. Seth’s body stopped the next day. We were able to donate his kidneys and his eyes (corneas). I desperately wanted someone else to have our beautiful boys eyes.
Similarities that are difficult to handle
It was a gorgeous fall day in Michigan on that Nov. 3…..this Nov. 3 was exactly the same beautiful day. 11 years ago on Nov. 3 the time change occurred ….. as did this past weekend. That first Nov. 3 our soccer team was in the state championship game and won….this weekend our team did the same thing. Nov. 4, 2007 our Seth died along with part of my heart too…a few days ago on November 4 my heart broke all over again.
When those deep, raw grief waves send you to your knees
I just couldn’t get the images of that terrible weekend so long ago out of my mind. The horrible “what-were-we-doing-this-time-that-year” game was playing over and over in my heart and mind and I just couldn’t get out from under the weight of the pain. We went to church in the morning and “hid” in the balcony because the tears were just to close to the surface that day. Half way through the service, I asked Greg to take me home. I wanted to just crawl up and die. (Let me clarify this statement. Many times people will say these words and some will worry if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts. Let me assure you that I am not to that degree. I do not judge, nor do I blame anyone who may be to that depth of depression whatsoever. It’s just at these times of deep, raw grief…..those are the only describing words one has to explain how much pain they are in).
Stupid things people actually tell you and you may believe
Greg lovingly brought me home and gently settled me into bed. He stayed with me as my sobs kept coming – wave after brutal wave. I couldn’t believe that I was experiencing this depth of grief again. For petes sake – it’s been 11 years already right? I shouldn’t experience this raw agonizing grief anymore should I? That’s what society makes us feel like. We hear: “You should be over it by now”, “oh man, she isn’t doing so well”, “I think something is wrong with her – it’s been 11 years!” “Get a grip, stop being so dramatic”….these are the thoughts and unfortunately some of the ACTUAL statements made to those who are grieving.
Nothing could be more of a lie than these thoughts. When you love someone as much as we loved Seth….that pain never goes away. That is the price of living in a fallen world. Seth was as much a part of our family as any of the kids – now the grief that is left behind is as much part of our family. We need to accept that fact and figure out a way to still live a fulfilling and joy-filled life. That is possible – to experience joy again. Please, those who are actively grieving hear that – you WILL experience joy again. And don’t settle for “bittersweet” joy. I joke that I don’t like bittersweet anything – including my joy. It’s just different. Joy before Seth’s death and joy experienced after his death – not bittersweet, just different. And different is ok. Not always great….but ok.
Suggestions to handle those dark grief days
How’d the rest of my Sunday go you may wonder? Pretty much the same way. I stayed in bed. I was utterly spent. Exhausted. Crying at times…..sleeping and having nightmares the rest of the time. Ever have a nightmare where you just cannot wake up from – yea, that was me Sunday. I was completely checked out. And you know what? THAT’S OK. You have to give yourself the grace and the space for days like that. For Heaven Birthdays. Allow yourself to have days like that – I’ve learned that when those days come, your body and your heart need them. So allow them. But then make the choice to live again. Give yourself time, yes….but then give yourself the permission to live again. And to live happy again.
For those of you who are grieving the death of someone dear in your life, my I suggest some ways to cope with the loss? These are ways that I have found help me….maybe they can help you as well….
- Allow days of grief. Sometimes they will come on expected days, but it’s those days when you’re not prepared that seem to knock you to your knees. Let them come, experience the grief, allow the tears, and then CHOOSE to live again. We may have not had a choice of someone in our life dying, but we CAN choose how we are going to handle the loss.
- Surround yourself with people who let you grieve. Reach out to those understanding friends. Ask for them to pray for you. Call on them – more than likely they are wanting to help but have no clue how to – so tell them what you need.
- When the grief seems overwhelming – start counting the blessings you have. I know this may seem trite, but it really works. When looking at your “glass” half empty….it helps to be grateful and look at your “glass” have full instead.
- Do not beat yourself up when these days come. Remember if you loved big…..you’re going to grieve big.
- Cling onto a verse, say it out loud over and over again. Remind yourself you are not alone.
- Get up the next day. Get out of bed – even if it’s to go to grab something to eat. Don’t allow yourself multiple repetative days in bed. I would suggest that if by the 3rd day you haven’t been able to get up, call your physcian. There may be some physical reason for feeling this way.
Choose to live again after a heavy wave of grief
I cling to the verse from Lamentations (SUCH a fitting name of a book of the Bible for the bereaved!) Lamentations 3:22-23 where it says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”. I chose to wake up on Monday with a newly healing heart made working again by my loving, faithful Father. His mercies ARE new every morning. I was able to start the week feeling lifted out of the depths of grief.
I look back over the weekend and am reminded once again how MUCH I love this little blue-eyed Russian little boy named Seth Roman. I’m reminded of the constant faithfulness of my Comforter. I’m reminded that I have many people in my life who are worth getting up each day for! I’m reminded that this broken world is only temporary. I’m reminded that each day is one day closer to holding Seth again, but more importantly each day is one day closer before I get to lay eyes on and worship my Creator – the one who not only created me but who created one sweet little boy.
Have you experienced a loss like ours? What are some things that have helped you get through the tougher days? Are there any specific verses that you clung to? Comment below – I would love to know how I can pray specifically for you!