“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, ESV)

February is known as the month of love.  It can be an exciting time as everywhere you go, the stores are full of pink and red hearts, shelves of chocolates, stuffed animals, and flowers.  If you’re a parent you’re busy finding creative Valentines for your children’s class parties. However, for those grieving the loss of someone they love, it can be another painful time of year. A reminder of a love that has been taken from them.

When our son Jamie died in 2008, an overwhelming devastation just crushed my soul and blinded my vision.  I was convinced that life for me had ended.  Yes, I had people in my life that loved me, and I loved them.  But I just knew that I would never open my heart to love anyone or anything new from that point on – it was just too painful.

Life would be dull and empty from that point on – it would be safer to think that way (I told myself).

Ten years ago on this very month, God blessed us with our very first grandchild.  He was named after the uncle he never knew.

I had been a fully devoted mother to both of my sons.  Loving them unconditionally and giving them everything I had.  I couldn’t imagine how I could ever love anything more than them.  But when our grandson Jamie was born – God opened a part of my heart that I didn’t even know existed.  There was no way to keep from falling absolutely in love with this little guy.

He was a precious gift that brought a lot of joy to my heart.  He gave me a renewed sense of purpose.  I wanted to live again for him and to see the world through his eyes.  But he didn’t replace my son (his uncle) in anyway.

Friends and family may encourage you to “move on” with your life.  If you’ve lost a spouse, they may tell you – “it’s time to date again”.  Or in my case, some informed me that I was young enough to “have another child” to replace my son.  While they may mean well, only someone who has never gone through anything as devastating as losing someone would ever utter those insensitive words.  Because a person can’t be replaced.

God designed us as unique individuals.  Our personalities, our spirit and our relationship with others is a one-of-a-kind creation.

Over the past thirteen years since our son Jamie died, God has put hundreds of new people in my life.  And through the healing that only Jesus can do – I’ve allowed my heart to be opened to love again.  I’ve fallen in love with new hobbies, new passions, and a plethora of new friends.

However, none of them take his place – that hole is always there.

Sometimes we fear loving again, because we think we are letting go of the person we lost. Even if we allow other people in – they never take the place of someone whose died.

Since Jamie died in 2008, life has continued to throw devastating heartbreaks our way. Yet choosing to close myself off and not love or live is simply not an option I can choose.  Because I know that fear is not from God. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I understand how the domino effect of the secondary losses that come our way after the death of someone we love, is enough to make us want to completely give up on life. But more importantly Jesus understands.

If you’re reading this today let me encourage you to take hold of His precious hand. Call on him, be open, to sharing with him your pain and your fear for living.  His Word promises us He will hear you.  He can bind up those wounds and allow you to find the strength to live and love again no matter what this world has taken from you. (Psalm 147:3)

My Hope Endures,

Laura Holmes, LPC-R, CATP

Director/Founder, Ephraim Ministries