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than I could have imagined,
the Valley of Shadows lay before me …
When your dreams crash into reality, a season of mourning begins.
Losing a baby or a child touches every part of your life. Your view of yourself. Your relationships. Your hopes and fears about the future. Your wallet. Your dreams. Your beliefs about life and death, and God.
Crossing the threshold into the Valley of Shadows thrusts you into a stark awareness of the uncertain nature of this world. You have no clue what is around the next bend.
At some point, each of us must make this long arduous trek through the dark. It’s fairly common for young moms to enter this dreadful valley, pitifully unprepared. I know I did. Following the sudden death of our baby, and years later, our sixteen-year-old son, I found myself thinking, “No one told me the path would be this steep, this rocky, this long, this black.”
Awakened to the priceless value of life and the persistent ache of empty arms, we are dazed by sadness. There are moments when we secretly wonder if we’ll survive.
We feel alone because we don’t believe that others truly understand our pain.
Grief is hard emotional work …
After dragging ourselves through basic responsibilities and routines, we have little energy left over to socialize. So we withdraw. We don’t feel like interacting or putting on a pleasant face when our heart is buried in sharp rubble. It feels so fake. Sometimes we retreat knowing we’ll be poor company. Other times, we simply don’t have enough energy to care.
Grief is like the dynamic force of an extreme roller coaster ride that slams us every which way, and sucks the air clean out of us. We’re left dizzy, reeling with confusion so it’s difficult to think straight or focus. Trauma fog clouds our perception, making it difficult to see clearly. Pain persists. Sadness won’t budge. Time and again we wonder, where’s the exit sign out of this dreadful place?
Accepting death and suffering is part of our spiritual journey. Significant loss tests our faith. Grief tends to hinder our ability to sense God’s presence. We wonder where He is, and why He didn’t show up to write a different ending to our story.
In what feels like a god-forsaken place, we are faced with critical choices of the will:
- Will we give death the final say, holding onto despair? Or will we believe that there is more going on than meets the eye, and that somehow God will bring life out of death, for our highest good and His highest glory?
- Will we invite God’s companionship, or shut Him out of our journey?
- Will we trust God to orchestrate a way through the darkness or will we light our own way?
Loss is not a simple affair …
It is fraught with multiples layers of meaning. Will we take the time needed to face and embrace our pain and let it go?
He that lacks time to mourn, lacks time to mend. Shakespeare
Even as we rightfully grieve, will we trust that God is planting seeds of new life in the cracks of our broken heart? Will we believe His promise to transform our loss? To bring life out of death and make all things new?
Today I had the privilege of talking with KGW Channel 8 news team about hope and healing for mom’s who have lost children. If you know a mom who needs encouragement, would you reach out to them and let them know you care?
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