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Free to Grieve (Day 4)

Thursday, July 26th

Ladies, today I want to get right to it. Today, I am even bypassing the familiar format that we have been following since we began our Freedom Study because today, I have asked my dear friend and our Soul Sister, Andrea Breland to write for us. She has poured her heart and soul into this writing today and surrounded her story with scripture and transparent and raw emotion. As you will see, her story seems unimaginable, yet there are others in this group grieving in a similar way right at this moment. If you have ever met Andrea, the light of Christ that she carries with her is palpable and I have no doubt that you will see that as her testimony blesses you today.

When I woke up on September 10, 2015, I was happy and I had every reason to be. Life was good and I was truly grateful. I was married to a wonderful man. We had four beautiful children and I absolutely LOVED being a mother. I had enjoyed the toddlerhood days but was equally enjoying having bigger kids (21, 19, 14 and 12). My parents were doing well. I was an ICU nurse and loved my job. Life is never perfect, but I really would not have changed anything. I knew nothing about grief….until my heart was shattered, completely broken. Tears flow as I tell you the hardest thing for this mama to tell - my son died. My Parker. He died in an accident when he was 14 and even though almost 3 years have passed it shocks me to the core to write these words. It is still hard to believe that something so awful could happen to our family. It was as if the world stopped spinning and the worst pain I could imagine took over every part of me. I remember thinking that night that surely my heart could not continue to beat. Surely it could not bear such pain. Surely I could not live through this, but what if I did? All the ways I enjoyed loving on him were no longer possible. Every vision of our family that I had had in my mind was destroyed. Every big event and every normal day had been forever changed - every dinner, every birthday, every Saturday morning. It was profound horror. I couldn’t cry, then I couldn’t stop. I just wanted the pain to end but did not want to sleep because then I would have to wake up and remember.

There is only one explanation for what happened next - God carried me. He carried all of us. He knew how much we loved Parker. He knew the joy Parker brought to our lives and to so many more. He knew how much fun we had together. He knew our plans. He knew it all.

I have lived a lot of days since then and I can say that almost every thought I had that night, I had yesterday or will have tomorrow. I am broken, forever changed. I am constantly shocked that Parker will not be walking into the kitchen or that he is not lined up in the picture side by side with Barrett, Anna and Grant as they joke about something. People say, “They lost their child.” I’m sure I’ve said that too but that implies that it is a past event. It is not. I am continually “losing” Parker so the grief is continual. There’s the loss of normal and the loss of innocence for all of us. There’s also the great loss my kids bear. That alone breaks my heart.

I am not a dramatic person. It is a sad story. So, why in the world would I agree to write today?

Because God is everything He said he would be! He is my Comforter, my Healer, my Rock and whatever else the moment demands.

I never want to minimize the pain of loss because to do so only lessens the miracle of grace to bear it.

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” I Thess 4:13

God invites me to bring all this grief to him because he alone can offer hope. He can remind me of Heaven. He can reassure me over and over again. I am sad. I miss my child. I miss normal. I realize that I cannot bear the weight of grief. So what next? I can try to bear it myself or carry it to Jesus. It is a continual process of letting go - letting go of how I think life should be, letting go of my sadness, letting go of my hold on this world, letting go of the notion that this life is about me and what I want and bringing it all to God with shaky hands. This happens over and over in the course of a day. Does letting go of those things mean somehow that I let go of Parker? Absolutely not! How could I? Letting go only means my hands are free to cling to the hope of heaven, to God who had all things written before the world began, to His plans for me and my family, to the glorious life Parker has in Christ, to eternity.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Ps 3:3

God is “the lifter of my head.” I never knew he was that until I needed him to be. My life was good. I did not need to look ahead. But when death shook the present, I had to see more. Grief causes me to look down and only see the here and now. I can only see the void that death created but God lifts my head over and over throughout the day and I see him face to face. He reminds me to cast my eyes on him and forward to Heaven where all things are made new. He allows me to see the blessings around me. That is a profound gift! But then…I miss Parker and my head sinks and Jesus is right there. He kindly lifts my head again and casts my eyes past this temporary world while allowing me to enjoy the good things in it.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2

Our home if full of peace which is a gift I marvel at every. single. day. We laugh, we work and we cheer each other on. We mess up. We miss. We remember. We are separated but joined by the great love of God who put us together in the first place. We realize God is with us.

I have learned ten times more about God since “that” day in all the days prior. I had to. I had to know God better in order to survive. I am free to grieve and cry and miss my baby but a miracle happens every day. God shows me that I am also free to have joy. I am free to be a mother. I am free to care for others. I am free to smile. I am free to look forward to heaven and all the adventures God has planned for our family. I am free to stand firm on the solid ground of Christ. I am free to tell you of the great hope Jesus offers.

If you are grieving or have or will, I am one normal soul among many who can tell you a story of God’s goodness in tragedy. This world is hard in many ways but when pain allows us to see an eternal picture then hopefully we can shine the light on Him who lights even our darkest night. He is faithful! He is good! He is constant and the world deserves to know!

Father, you see all of us. You are our Comforter. You know us well. Please lift our heads when we can’t. Thank you for the freedom to grieve, because you have wept, because You see and understand our darkest thoughts, because You are touched by our weaknesses, and because You are our strength when we have none. Give us a vision for our calling, for our race. Thank you for those who link arm-in-arm with us to run.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Thank you for letting me share with you! - Andrea