Posts Tagged grief
It’s supposed to get easier, right? It’s been over 11 years since my son was seriously injured in an automobile accident. He’s come so far, and for that, I am truly thankful. You know, I started this blog (one of my first ones!) to provide a place to air out my emotions. It was great to have a place I felt I could dump it all out and leave it all behind so I could go about my day. Man, have things changed.
There’s a lot of really good changes. I have lots of work now! I often take on too much and I should probably be working on my work to-do list now, but my mind keeps getting clouded. Again – I am thankful for all my son has relearned. But the last few days seem to have crashed in on me for some reason.
It’s a Facebook Thing
I have lots to do on Facebook, don’t you? I manage a group for Chris called, “Keepin’ Up With Chris Hampton.” I update it regularly to keep those who care informed. I also write a devotion for caregivers and I put that on Facebook so other caregivers know when it’s been published. Plus, I’ve opened my own bookstore with study guides and other materials I’ve written. They are all linked so I end up being on FB a lot.
The trouble is my news-feed. Isn’t that always the problem? lol. Usually, I can pass on by and shrug off those weird emotions. But lately, it’s not been so easy. I see his friends getting married, announcing a baby, a new job, having another baby, and tons of other life events. While I am genuinely happy for them, my heart breaks. Chris didn’t get those things. Barring a miracle, he’ll never know the feeling of holding his own son in his arms. He won’t walk down the aisle and marry the woman of his dreams. He’ll never play in the Old Guard, or anywhere for that matter.
For some reason, it’s been harder lately, rather than easier and I don’t really know why. I love my son. I still love my son. He’s so much different than he was before, obviously. But I love this version of Chris too. But my heart hurts. There’s still grief. I don’t always know where to put it.
Worse Than Death
There was a horrible tragedy in my community a couple of weeks ago. Teenagers were killed by an impaired driver in a horrific act of violence. One teen died at the scene and another died a day later. One young man clung to life after suffering a traumatic brain injury. I followed his story closely and grieved for the family. He made a bit of progress, but never recovered and died a bit later.
I was so saddened by his death and yet… I knew his parents had been spared another hard journey. One that can be worse than death. You see, my son did die in that crash even though he’s recovered a few basics like standing, eating, and now turning and sitting. But I still grieve the loss. Daily. I am sure the young man’s parents would not agree at this point in their grief journey, and I am sincerely sorry for their loss.
Now I do get to care for my son – and that is a blessing I must say. But it’s also only possible if I bury my first son and devote my life to my second one in the same body.
Focusing on What Matters
Even though I would rather be celebrating my son’s marriage, first or second child, or new work promotion (who am I kidding? He was a drummer. lol), I’ll celebrate he is making a few noises with his voice, that he is standing some now – and choosing whether he wants to stand or sit. I’ll be glad he is able to interact with facial expressions and let me know definite “yes” and “no” answers. It’s not what I wanted, but it’s where I’m at.
Thankful for the Furnace
With all this in heart and mind, I’m thankful for this furnace. Not that I would have ever chosen this path, especially for my son. But now that we are in the daily burning of the fiery trial (and it never lets up), I can say I’ve become a much different person than I was before. I am more thankful. I don’t have to work hard at gratitude. I’m closer with God – even though my faith has indeed been tried by fire. It’s burned away a lot of things in me that didn’t matter and I can focus on what does.
And what would that be? Faith matters. People matter. Relationships matter. It matters that God has spent every second with me in this fire. He hasn’t jumped ship when the storm started tossing. He didn’t abandon when life became less than picture-perfect. That matters. So I will thank Him for this storm and for the fire, even though I don’t really like it. For I know there will be another side, some day. Maybe after time has passed away – and maybe then, this side won’t even matter at all. I’ll still be hidden in Him. Faith matters.
Today is Chris’ 35th birthday. It’s a difficult day for me. Thoughts swarm my mind as I try to get on his Facebook page to read him his few messages. I see friends who are celebrating new babies, getting married, or seeing the world. Emotions can’t be stopped as I look at his mostly motionless body. My eyes fill with tears as I long to hear his voice again and wish he could tell me at least a little bit of what he’s actually thinking or able to process.
Do I read him those messages? Should I ask his friends to send a video message so he can hear their voices? I’m terrible at impersonations. lol. I notice his pictures on his Facebook page are still the same. Perhaps I should change them to reflect today’s reality. I don’t know.
I do not blame his friends at all for moving on with their lives. They should. No questions there. But it still makes my heart hurt just to see him forgotten. Tossed aside because he cannot contribute to life’s conversation. I really don’t know what, if anything, should or could be changed – just expressing how it feels to be forgotten.
One thing I have begun doing when these types of emotions overwhelm is to think of how I’ve been changed by caregiving for him. See, he’s still my son. I still love him. Actually, I continue to care for him because of that love. He can’t do much for himself but I keep pushing him – one day it might click. He is regaining some muscle control so who knows!
Even though he’s forgotten he still continues to change the world. Maybe some of us become more caring in the face of tragedy. Perhaps a few become more forgiving. There’s no doubt caregiving has changed me. I’m more introverted and less of an extrovert. I won’t go through the list of things I’ve learned about myself or my faith on this journey. It’s vast.
I’m a furnace walker. I was reading this morning in Daniel 3. There were three men facing a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow to a false god. I have to say on this difficult journey, there’ve been times I wanted to give up. I just couldn’t. The three Hebrew men acknowledged the ability God had to deliver them. But they said – but if not we still won’t bow. That’s how I feel as I walk through this furnace. God can deliver at any time – and that’d be okay with me. But I really am not looking for another God. There’s not one!
I am determined to let my faith be refined in his fire. I’m determined that I won’t bow to other things that try to get my attention. You know, like fear, doubt, worry. Even though it feels like the world has forgotten my son and me – I’ll stand firm knowing that God has not abandoned in the time of trouble. He’s still walking with me in the storm and in the furnace (description depends on the day.. lol) – He won’t’ quit because it got too long or because I get too whiney. We are forgotten by men – but never by God.
I know I have not written in a while, but that’s just how I am built. When I go into overload mode I shut most things down. I am sure it could be explained as some sort of survival mechanism…if anyone cared to take the time to research it. Really, I’m not too worried about it…I just know that when I am on overload and there are lots of stress factors I tend to shut down. And quite honestly, I don’t care to explain it or define it or even change it right now… there’s not enough energy to worry about it.
Lots has happened since I poured my emotions out here. I really like having the blog as it helps me sort through so many things. I’m sure that’s just the writer coming out in me. But here on the computer screen I can express most of my deepest fears, doubts, concerns, goals, achievements and hopes…and leave them here while I walk away to deal with life as it is right now. Somehow (again unexplainable) that has helped me walk some of this journey.
For my readers (if I have any left!) thanks for “listening” to me whine, gripe, praise and rejoice as I sort through this mess from the furnace. Really, sometimes I just can’t sort through the emotions. There is so much in a day that my mind has to put on hold, or maybe “mute” is a better term for it. And that’s just to get through the day. I can be very happy and rejoicing one minute and thrilled at all Chris is doing (and he’s really starting to do a lot) but then see a picture of him playing the drums and I’m sucked right back into the emotional pit. I miss him so much…
It’s difficult but I am trying to live through whatever I have on my plate today. I’m not even sure if it’s the “right” way to deal with it; but I must only look at what is before me today and try to do something productive with it. Try to push Chris one more step, push myself to get some work done (very thankful for that!), try to keep my chin up in the midst of the fire…you get the idea.
I won’t go into the gruelling details of my day and the emotional roller coaster I ride most of the time. Because that really is just about every second of every day. But I do know that I have to deal with what I see – and – do it in faith. In some ways, most ways, faith can seem very far away and unreachable. You see, even though I already live in the furnace – that does not exempt me from other trials too. For instance, my aunt has just found out that she has cancer. After all these years of ministry – I can’t help but wonder why? A friend has had a brain tumor removed and is struggling to get her life back on track too…I deal with the same sadness and heartache that you do every single day – from the furnace. Sometimes it seems that there is no hope…nothing gets better…until we are home. That’s what my head says. My heart won’t let me stay there too long though.
I really can’t explain what my emotions do when I think about giving up. Oh, you know I have had those moments of wanting to give up now…I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to them. I still have moments full of despair…times I feel like I’m drowning in every sense of the word…
But I am in good company! Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1: 8 that they were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life…That was Paul? The great apostle whom God used to write 2/3 of the New Testament? And he had real life struggles? wow…And on top of that he admitted it!?! What was wrong with him?
Somehow we have attached weakness to those who admit that they struggle. We forget that to walk in faith can cause a fight! I think sometimes my biggest fight is with myself…struggling to figure out what is wrong with me…trying to figure out if I still believe.
But I always come back to a resounding Yes! There is no place to quit – not for me anyway. I don’t allow my students to say “I can’t” – but in this context I must say I just can’t…. I can’t quit, I can’t give up, I can’t stop fighting, I can’t stop believing, period. I just have to trust that God is a God of His word and He made some statements about Chris — so all I can do is wait. Well, I certainly can’t make God move any faster! lol!
I must deal with what I see today and keep pressing on toward a better day…just hoping, praying, believing…That even though for today – this is just the way it is.. and I have to deal with the today I have right now – that there is a tomorrow out there somewhere. And it will be better…I refuse to believe anything else. Call me crazy – delusional – I don’t care….I will continue to stand in the gap for my son against all odds….it’s just the way it is…
Several things happened today. First, Chris was really with it – one of his better days. I took advantage of it and tried to do some drum stuff with him. (I ordered some basic cd’s from Modern Drummer) then while I had his computer out I saw he had his testimony in his playlist. I played some of it for him. His voice sounded so great! It was really bitter sweet as it made me so glad to hear it once again…and equally as sad to not hear it coming from him…
This was the first Monda of the month and Dennis Jernigan has praise and worship live from his studio. I always try to catch this live broadcast each month. He sang a song tonight that just really expressed some of the words I could not find. I got on his site and downloaded the cd. It was written for some of his friends who lost a child. I could seriously relate to so many of the songs. And for a few minutes it was just okay to hurt.
He talks of God’s love in the night and in the storm…but isn’t it supposed to kind of come and go? This is a pain that does not ever go away. Even if I am pretty much dealing with the day – it’s just under the surface…always. I’ve said before that I cannot bury Chris and go on…yet he is here – but he’s not. I don’t even know how to deal with this. I just hurt…but you know what? It’s okay!
It’s not a pain I can seek counseling for – as there is no healing because it’s ongoing. I can’t pray it away, sing it away, hope it away…because all the hope in the world (and trust me I still have mine!) does not change today. I a realizing that sometimes I have to give myself permission to hurt. It really is okay. I’m not talking about wallowing around in self-pity or throwing a pity party (but I have thrown a few.. depressing as I am the only one to show up!! lol!) … but there comes a place where the freedom to hurt… to acknowledge the pain …has to happen. I can’t say as it makes anything any better… nothing does really…but there’s this real honesty that you have with yourself in that moment…
You feel the pain, the deep hurt and loss – a continued grief…and you allow it for that moment. It’s like telling yourself the truth…finally. And quite honestly – tonight I found it freeing… can’t really explain it. Guess the truth really does set you free! lol!
It’s like when I admit how deep the pain is – He comes closer…and His embrace…in that empty – dry -painful place — becomes the refreshing of your soul. Like He is not welcome as long as we are lying to ourselves. somehow that makes since since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth…
I think we cannot cast our cares on Him .. if we do not first admit they are there.