On April 1, 1975, I gave birth to a little girl, Christy Marie. We were so excited to have a daughter to join two sons. But Christy soon found heaven’s air easier to breathe, and we were left with empty arms, empty dreams and an empty nursery. The other day, as a doctor examined my ears, I mentioned how my hearing loss was related to my pregnancies. She asked how many children I had. As usual, I wasn’t sure if I should say two or three. And I was surprised, even after 41 years, to feel a catch in my throat as I responded.
But I have learned a lot by surviving grief (and other losses as well), so I share such thoughts with you today. After all, we all will need someone to hold our hands sooner or later.
1. You learn to value what you have. Yes, I was denied the privilege of raising a daughter, but I have had the pleasure (and of course challenges J) of raising two sons who brought two wonderful daughters-in-law into my life and gave me five “grand” grandchildren. I love and treasure my earthly family.
2. You learn life is not perfect. Sometimes we forget we live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. After all, we deserve the best. But the saying is true: Every test in life makes you bitter or better. God is able to use every experience to mature us and to mold us into the image of His Son—if we let Him.
3. You learn that eternal life starts now. It took years, but my grief lessened when I began picturing Christy in heaven, cared for by a Heavenly Father Who loves her even more than I do. In my prayers, I began asking God to “Tell Christy ‘hello’ for me” or “Tell Christy I miss her." I have two earthly sons and a heavenly daughter.
4. You learn time heals. At first you think you’ve got your emotions under control, then minutes later you cry again. That’s just the way it is. You will never forget your loved ones, but time will lessen the hurt and the tears.
5. You learn God gives strength for the day. How will you get through the funeral? How will you clean out a drawer? As you face such issues you find God gives strength for the task at hand. That’s why it’s important continually to look to Him.
6. You learn compassion for others suffering loss of any kind. After you go through a hard experience, you better understand the emotions others feel in all losses—and you want to reach out and hold their hands. That’s part of our healing process, and it’s important to them as well. In you they see a survivor, and it shows them that they too can make it. You are an inspiration.
Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
I love the song “My Redeemer is Faithful and True” by Steven Curtis Chapman (you can find it on YouTube). Please accept my sympathy for any loss you’ve suffered. I hope you are finding the new mercies that Chapman sings about. Christ is faithful to see us through the tears, even though it may take years.
If you have suggestions to add to my list, feel free to leave a comment. If you receive this blog by e-mail, just click on the link at the bottom to get to the comment box.