One year anniversaries can mark many things. Often, they are
reminders of happy events.. a birthday, an anniversary, a year free of
cancer. Today is the one year anniversary of the death of our youngest
son. I cannot say that it marks a happy event. For our family it marks a
day that is filled with the memories of some very dark times marked by
many tears and deep sorrow.
It’s taken me a year to be
able to write the words that follow… our youngest son committed
suicide. Even after one year of the Lord gently working me through the
grief from his actions I still experience a horrific pain when I face
the decision he made to end his life.
But, today on
the one year anniversary of his death, I do not want to focus on the
darkness of this past year. I want to share with you the constant
thread that so evidently wove it’s way through the ups and the downs
of this past year. The evidence of the Lord’s presence with us through
the ministry of family and friends and the comfort and power of His Word
were our saving grace.
In some ways this past year
reminds me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were
thrown into the fiery furnace. Their faith in God did not rescue them
from experiencing all that the trial produced. But, as they were thrown
into that furnace the Lord made His presence known to them. He was in
the furnace with them. That is the overall banner of this past year. God
has been with us!
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm
you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame
shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of
Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 42:2-3 (ESV)
not sure I can even adequately share with you all that God has done
over this past year. I believe the greatest measure of His presence has
been through His Word. His Word has been a light that has shone bright
through the darkest valley and when I have looked to Him for direction…
He has directed me safely to the next step. I have fallen many times but
that has only been when I have taken my eyes off His Word and listened
to the lies of the enemy.
The first night after we
had arrived in Texas (where my son lived) I began to plummet
emotionally. We had been busy throughout the day with many details but
after loved ones had gone to their rooms for the night then I was
bombarded with many dark thoughts. No one knew what was going on inside
my head… not even my husband. But, the enemy of my soul was throwing
his fiery darts of accusations and instead of taking up the shield of
faith (as I had known to do in times past) I accepted each hit. Suddenly
the phone rang (as it had all day). I had not been taking any of the
calls. I just couldn’t talk to anyone. But, at that exact moment the
Lord gave me grace and I picked up the phone and the Lord ministered to
me through the words of a dear friend on the other end of the line. She
had lost a relative through suicide and was able to encourage me through
those first dark moments. After our phone conversation ended I picked
up the Gideon bible found in the hotel drawer and started reading. The
Lord brought to mind a scripture I had not thought of in literally
years. His Word instantly filled my heart with peace and that scripture
became a very important weapon in my fight against the guilt that would
hound my soul over the coming months.
The Lord would
continue to minister His Word to each struggle I would face in the
coming days. Some were given in my quiet time with Him. Others came
through a few close friends who patiently ministered to me through those
dark days. His Word, when obeyed, became the light that continued to
help keep me on His path of peace. When I deterred and stopped obeying
His Word then that is where I entered those dark places of torment.
the Lord made Himself known as our Provider. I started following
Christ when I was 17 years old but I had never experienced such an
outpouring of generosity as we did in the days following our son’s
death.. not only for ourselves but the entire family.
of you may know that my husband became disabled a few years ago and as a
result we are living on a very tight budget. The morning that we
received the phone call that our son was dead we immediately called our
daughter in love. There was no hesitation in our hearts … we knew we had
to travel to Texas immediately regardless of what it cost . We were
able to find a plane leaving within 4 hours and so we booked the
flight. We had not even left town when a close friend showed up and
handed us money for our trip. Within hours we received a phone call and
were told that a family member was sending money to help with expenses.
Then we received word that another one was sending money. A dear friend
and her husband paid for our hotel room on our trip bringing our
daughter in love and grandchildren back to California. By the time we
arrived home our entire trip had been paid for. Oh my! I can’t tell you
how much this ministered to us. God did not keep us from the deep
painful grief of those beginning hours and the days that followed but He
ministered to us through the outpouring love and generosity of others.
He was making Himself known as our Provider.
had made it through the funeral and had arrived home we started opening
cards that were handed to us at the services. We found love offerings in
nearly every card. We were speechless. We just couldn’t believe it. Our
hearts were overwhelmed. There was enough money to not only pay the
pastor for his services but enough money to start saving for his
cremation plot. My mother’s heart wanted his ashes placed somewhere
permanent as a remembrance. I knew it would probably take a few years to
save for the cremation niche but my husband and I agreed that it was
important and committed to saving for as long as it took.
day that his ashes arrived at my front door was another dark time of
sorrow. The grief hit like a tsunami wave when I took the heavy box from
the UPS carrier. I didn’t even let my husband know it had come yet. I
was trying to gain the courage to tell him when I heard the mailman drop
the mail in the garage slot. As I began opening the mail I couldn’t
believe what I found in one of the envelopes. There was an extremely
large check that covered the rest of the burial plot. Only a sovereign
God could orchestrate such a huge blessing to arrive on such a sad day,
for we had told no one the desire of our hearts. We immediately called
our daughter in love - our son's widow- and all of us were able to drive
to the cemetery and make plans for his burial. Our son’s ashes would
have a resting place and we experienced the comfort of knowing a tender
God had again provided for not only for our needs but our desires.
never again want to go through what we experienced this past year but I
can tell you that I have come to know God in a more intimate way
through it. He has been my comfort. His Word has been my guide. His
presence has been my peace. I can not imagine.. I mean this in full
sincerity… how I would have lived through this past year if I had not
known Him as my Savior.
Thank you.. from the bottom of
my heart.. to all that prayed for our family.. to all that gave so
generously of your hard earned money… to all who reached out to my
children in the weeks that followed and brought them meals… to those who
stayed behind and helped my daughter’s family get a room ready in her
home for my daughter in love and grandchildren... to my other children
and their spouses who gave of themselves in so many ways..to all who
helped provide money and clothing for my daughter in love when she
arrived (that is another story all in itself!). The list goes on and on.
You will never know how you ministered to my entire family.
those I have never met personally but have known you as an online
internet friend and who prayed and sent money… thank you so much for
reaching out to someone you have never met. Thank you to all those at
Victory Life Center who allowed us to have our funeral at the church
where our son grew up and who gave of your day to provide food and
organize all that went into the planning and to a dear friend who made a
beautiful picture memorial of our son. The list goes on and on and I
fear that those I have not mentioned will not know how much each
gesture, small and large, meant to us. Each of my family members
repeatedly said during those following months that WE were learning how
to minister to others in their time of need by the way that others had
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts
us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who
are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are
comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
May God bless each one of you!
Grief and God's Grace Blog