One of the first questions I asked God on the day Jamie died was “WHY NOT ME?” Just 7 days earlier I had suffered a massive heart attack, actually dying once on the table. I couldn’t understand it, why did God spare me and take my son? I yelled at God until I was hoarse, “WHY NOT ME! HOW COULD YOU! YOU HAD ME BUT YOU DIDN’T KEEP ME!” I was hurt, and mad.
I told God “I HATE YOU!”
It was several days or maybe weeks before I apologized to God for my anger at Him. Even longer before I could ask Him those questions again though this time, I really wanted an answer. Before, I wanted someone to blame. Now I needed God to help me understand. There had been numerous people telling me that God had a plan for me, but I could not see it. Some days I didn’t want even want to try to see it. I was afraid to see it. I was (and sometimes now) still puzzled as to why God had chosen to leave me here on this fallen land. If he was going to take Jamie, why not take me as well?
I struggled with guilt, guilt over my survival in the same week my youngest son had died. The guilt made it harder to accept this plan that everyone was talking about. What was it? What kind of plan could God possibly have for me and all this pain that life had inflicted on us? As humans, we lack the capacity to grasp God’s infinite mind or the way He intervenes in our lives. In his book “When God Doesn’t Make Sense”, James Dobson writes “God is present and involved in our lives even when He seems deaf or on an extended leave of absence.”
It took several years but I finally started to God reveal glimpses of His plan to me through my wife Laura. The first couple of years was especially hard on her, both physically and mentally. She depended on me to take care of her. I was the one who had suffered a heart attack but I was able to go back to work and function. For me in the early days, that’s how I best handled my grief, by burying myself in work. She was not able to do that. I felt it was my responsibility to make sure we didn’t go hungry and keep a roof over our heads (and to continue providing for our other son). There is no comparison to the loss of a child versus a spouse. But if I had died the week before and Jamie had lived, I don’t think Laura could have held it together. If we had both died, I know she wouldn’t have survived. So, I feel like, the first part of God’s plan was for me to be here to keep our family together in that time of crisis. As time went on, I was able to help Laura out of the depression she was in and our marriage strengthened as we started finding new ways to live again.
Laura decided to return to school and make a complete career change. It was my responsibility to support her in that decision. I feel that was the second part of God’s plan for me.
Throughout this time of grief since Jamie’s passing, we have been contacted by other families that were suffering through the same grief as us, thus, putting many wonderful people in our life. Laura and I opened our hearts and home to these people. Being there to love and support them as only we knew how. So, I guess this was the third part of God’s plan. Two years ago, we started a support group for parents who lost a child and a year ago that group turned into a ministry. A calling we both feel strongly about – Ephraim Ministries. Using our pain to be “fruitful in our suffering” and to be able to help others through this journey of grief and pain. God has placed many new people in our lives through this ministry and I proudly claim them all as friends.
Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
The grief never ends but Hope in God’s word and hope in the help of friends that are on this journey as well, is what will get us through. When people go through the devastation of the loss of a child, it’s impossible to see yourself going on living without them. I see how God is using us – using our pain – using our faith – to encourage others to keep holding on.
Is there more to God’s plan for me on this earth? I certainly hope so. I hope we can continue to bless families with our story of recovery and support them in their journey. It’s not a quick trip. It doesn’t stop in a few weeks like some “professionals” claim. Grief is a lifelong process, we are continually learning how to cope with it and live life on a daily basis. And to trust in His plan.
In His Grip,