A Decade of Pain, a Decade of Progress

“…we will always hurt, but we must persevere and strive to thrive.”

As I emotionally prepare for the tenth anniversary of my son’s death this weekend, my heart naturally takes me back to those early days and months. This has been true every spring over the past decade. Decade?! 3,650 days to be exact.

Sometimes I feel like David is still here, like it’s all been a horrific nightmare. There have been times when it seemed I took two steps forward, five steps back. Grieving is fluid. I think that’s what makes it so traumatic, exhausting and downright depressing.

It’s a continuous cycle to be sure, and no one said it would be easy, but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort in the journey. We need to resign ourselves to the fact that we will always hurt, but we must persevere and strive to thrive. We may even learn some valuable lessons along the way.

I’ve never experienced anything so tragically heartbreaking, or so incredibly life-changing. June 6th jumps out at me like a strobe light, announcing the significance of the day. It also prompts me to take inventory. How well am I doing? Mentally, emotionally and spiritually? Am I doing better than last year? Did I engage in unhealthy behaviors that caused me more harm than good? What lifelong lessons have I learned to date? What’s next?

As I reflect, I see pain, but I also recognize growth. The confidence and encouragement I’ve experienced over the past ten years is directly interwoven with the lessons I’ve learned, a lot of which will make for more detailed blog posts in the future.

Here are a few that have stood out to me over the past ten years:

  • Early on, from a faith standpoint, I had to ask myself, “Do I believe that what I believe is really what I believe?” How I answered this question would determine and lay the foundation for my healing and change the trajectory of my life.
  • God is not a genie. Why have I treated Him like one in the past?
  • Jesus is truly enough.
  • I have chosen to become better, not bitter.
  • I have to take an active role in what my “better” will look like.
  • Because of the power of God’s Spirit in me, I am never alone.
  • I not only read the Bible, I’ve learned to rely on it. Gamechanger!
  • There is purpose to my pain.
  • I have been able to help and encourage others, in the same way that God has helped and encouraged me.
  • God is still writing my story.

There are more lessons to be learned. I will continue to share my survival story, in hopes it may help to jumpstart someone else’s. I will continue to lean on the Lord and grow stronger in my faith.

There is hope. Hope is a person. His name is Jesus.

Dear friend,

How do you handle the milestone anniversaries associated with the death of your loved one, or the days in between? Maybe you have a hard time getting past your anger.  

If grief is a fire, anger is the accelerant. It has a way of fueling how we will handle our pain-if we allow it to. It will not only spread out of control, it will fan out beyond our control, and it may also prevent us from doing the hard work of striving to thrive as we grieve. 

In order to begin compiling your own list of lessons learned you must be willing to commit to choose better over bitter. I pray you will trust God to lead the way…then you’ll have a little something to share with others-your own survival story.

Love and prayers to you,

Jan