Who am I becoming? 8 years have passed now that Eliyah has moved to Heaven. I believe I have become more tender hearted than ever. I was thinking out loud wondering why is this bothering me? Why does this seem something so foreign to me or something that needs to be adjusted? I think it’s because we must always guard our hearts with everything that God gave us. Recently I had to ask what does this really mean? To guard my tender and at times very fragile heart, because out of it flows the well spring of life. In my writings and conversations I can be very vulnerable. I do not want this organ (my heart) to be stepped on. I require joy. Not always happiness but joy. My heart thru this journey has had in my opinion way to many bandages, and far to many leaks. How especially in grief can this be avoided? I don’t think that it can. I think I have tried every avenue to avoid, and even run away from even the possibility, but just like my shadow it’s there. So I concluded that it is avoidable, so I must manage. This heartache, It can come with any subject.. A romantic loss, a physical loss of someone, disappointment. Let me talk about that disappointment. Hoping and praying for the outcome you want and when it doesn’t happen…Bam!!! it rears it’s ugly head. Especially when you dont see it coming. Such as the sudden death of a loved one. Maybe you’ve prayed for something and the answer God gives is no, or he is silent. Whatever it is, the outcome did not meet the expectations or the desire that you had within. Maybe you are up for a promotion at your job. you’ve been there a long time, you out shine your co-workers, and the bosses’ nephew comes to town, and bam!! he gives it to him based on being related alone. How do you respond? Do you respond? What if you have been praying for a job all together and week, denial letter after another keeps coming? Bills have red-notes on them, and you are a week shy of losing your apt. or home. How do you respond? I wonder at times what keeps people from utterly breaking? What about when that relationship you thought was the one that would last forever and it fails? You invested time, maybe money, given of yourself and it comes to an abrupt halt, or you find out things about the other person that changes your feelings? How do you handle it? Another thing I realize about myself is that I’m an over thinker.. I over analyze, I allow things to steal my rest because my mind is circling. I tend to run things in my head, you know worst case scenarios, best case scenarios. But it’s so bad because I will think but what if ? Let me say those what if’s will destroy you. They will take you mentally away from it all. You will be so caught up in worry that it’s all to the bad. When a situation pops up and I begin to dream, envision how it will go, smile at the possible outcome etc. I couldn’t be more excited. You know how a balloon has air and it’s flying high and enjoying the view. If it suddenly gets thwarted or doesn’t come into fruition, my silly heart falls, balloon deflates, and I am now overthinking plan B.. The re-adjustment. But how does this happen without big ole crocodile tears? or worse anger!? I then take a pause, deep breaths, and start to replay it all. Am I at fault? Does God still care? will it get better sooner or later? What does my readjustment look like? who else if anyone is involved? Can I even listen to the small still voice in my head that says “One day this too shall pass”? Do I even care to listen to any encouraging voices around me? are they around? It’s thee hardest emotions for me. Will there ever be justice? Did I set myself up for failure? Did I have expectations and should not have? But how the hell do you not have expectations? Maybe they were too high…. Maybe they weren’t high enough. Even in grief I never want to be the victim. Watching others experience loss knowing what the road up ahead will bring makes me sad. My empathy has grown. Learning and loving through it all. I keep going, I keep moving forward, I keep praying, I keep dreaming, I keep Heaven in my view. This journey has not become easier. I am still navigating life the best that I can. God gives me strength beyond what I thought I could receive or even have. I press forward everyday. When my heart needs a rest, I do my best to give it that and recharge, re-focus and begin again.
My measure of faith
Have you ever seen an actual mustard seed? It is so tiny. Almost barely visible. I have a tiny jar that I have 1 in. I have also gone to the store in the spice section just to look at them. Matthew 17:20 Jesus said ” Because you have so little faith, Truly I tell you, if you have faith like grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ” Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
My father passed earlier this week unexpectedly. It has shaken me to my core. I have never lived life without him, so this feels very different. It hurts beyond what I can write in words. Experiencing the pain of loss first of my son, then 2 years later my mother and now almost 5 years since her passing my dad, needless to say my faith has been tested, rocked, challenged, and more. I have sat quietly for many hours wondering, praying, thinking, asking God why?, I’ve sat in tears feeling broken, helpless, asking God to help me, heal me, hold me.
So what can I say about faith? It is the substance /confidence of things hoped for and the assurance that God is working even though we can’t see it. It does not come easy. It must be exercised to grow. As with the mustards seed, it can grow to an immense proportion. When you look into what a seed does once it is planted, it is truly amazing. But it will do nothing until it is planted. Seeds have the ability to remake worlds, and areas around them.
Faith has allowed me to remain rooted even in thee most unsettled of situations. This immense grief I’m feeling has my faith right about the size of the mustard seed. Grief brings yet again it’s challenges with all of the feelings associated with it. I have come to understand that faith like grieving is a journey. Sometimes prayer is difficult in the presence of grief.
My prayer for you, and for myself is to be willing to accept that things will be different. And in this, I can still be assured that even with the tiniest of seed of faith, we can be confident that God loves us. And one day, although it may not be today, we will flourish under the fire.
The Missing Plate
It’s Christmas today. For some it really as the song says is The Happiest Season of all. For others it is a season of struggle, depression, and grief. As I reflect on today, I am overwhelmed with many emotions. As I prepare breakfast, and later dinner there is one place setting that remains empty. It belongs to my son Eliyah Linell. 2012 was the last time he sat around the Christmas table. Unbeknownst to us, it would be our last Holiday together. He passed suddenly in his sleep on Jan. 19th, 2013.
I say that I have many emotions because I have other children and a grandson that look forward to this day. They have the expectations of the joy, and happiness associated with Christmas. We believe as a family in the birth of Jesus. Yet, I know the commercialism of this holiday is hard to fight.
Eliyah loved this time of the year. It was his absolute favorite. even more than his own birthday which was July 4th another holiday. He looked forward to decorating the tree and the house. We went to Disneyland during this time, and really loved our time there as well.
I will keep this blog today brief. I will go to the cemetery and say prayers for all those that are bereaved, and grieving. For many this is the first Holiday without their loved ones. I know that it’s hard. I know that many around you will do their best to make you smile, when inside you want to scream all day. My prayer for you is to hold tight to the good memories, and remember Gods sovereignty.
Oh, and that empty plate… Pay it forward. do something for someone that least expects a blessing or gift from you. Give a smile to yourself. Give grace that grief is a process that will take time. The pain will become less acute over time. I love you and God loves you more!!!
Over the last 6 years since Elijah left this earth, I have encountered many people. I have built many beautiful relationships. I’ve met other moms who have lost a child and there is a unique bond that only we share. However many of my relationships changed. Many people whom I thought would remain in my life are no longer a part. Including family members. I also see that those who I maybe at one point was not close to or did not know well are some of my closest confidants.
Grief has an awful effect on most of us. It itself is a complete stranger. My parents told me never to talk to strangers. Do not engage or become familiar with. Therefore, when grief hits, everyone deals with it in a different way. It is an unwelcomed stranger that forces itself usually immediately after a loss. Many of those who I counted as my friend during my deepest part of my grief could not handle it for whatever reason. Some I would say hated to see me suffer so they backed away not knowing how to handle it. Some were trying to handle their own grief and maybe felt like they would make me feel worse by sharing their hurt too. And maybe others feared that my tragedy would somehow affect their lives differently so they just vanished all together. Losing someone will either 1. bring you closer together, or 2. be the catalyst for falling apart. And I experienced both.
I had to ask myself a question… Am I asking to much from my friends/family/comforters? I mean he was my son, my heartbeat, I carried him!!! Right?? Surely no one is grieving harder than me.. Not true. I had to ask myself also What are if any are my expectations? Should someone automatically know how to comfort me? No, they aren’t mind readers. No one could assess my emotional, spiritual, or physical needs without my input. People were grieving in their own way, and because he was my son many people would in fact heal quicker than me because of the relationship to him. Some of the anger I had was towards those closer to me. Some demanded more of my attention to them and I couldn’t give it and I was hurt in the process. I could not understand why I was being avoided in my time of utter and complete sorrow, and brokenness. I mean just because you don’t know how or maybe at a loss for words you avoid me? Yes, people did. I had a friend who 3 years later called me and told me that it was to hard for him to see me hurt so he stayed away. I understood yet at the same time could not give myself a reason for our friendship to just pick up and continue. I instead thanked him for telling me and wished him well in his life. Even through my own grief, there were times I had to sacrifice and be there for others through their pain as well. I also had those who said some pretty dumb things. Some things said were even quite disrespectful. I could say it was because they were at a loss but some people at the heart of it are just insensitive and even if you wrote it out and they took a class and then explained it again, they would still be insensitive and there is nothing that you can change about that. And I could not make excuses for them, so I in turn isolated myself to protect my heart.
Being present is not an easy thing to do. It requires patience, faith, love, gentleness, being kind, and discernment to name a few. In my life today are some wonderful people that encourage me, pray for me, love on me through my tantrums, and push me to keep going. I have healthy relationships with those who didn’t run away. Those who could bear the weight of my grief. I have met wonderful souls who do not mind me talking about Eliyah, his impact, and his life. I evaluate my expectations better than I did before. Even as my journey continues and yet still the layers of loss that are still being uncovered come, I have those in my life I can call. I’m careful not to except someone to give me what I know only God can. I have friends who are present and find it not to be a burden on them. I’m aware that friendships change. My life became more complex, and not easier. I’m so grateful for those that God placed in my life, and I’m grateful for those who he knew would not be good for me and he removed. God has given me beauty for ashes. Thank you Lord for all that you have done in my life!!! Thank you for being present and never leaving nor forsaking me. Amen!!!!!!!!
Letter to a Newly Bereaved Mom
One of my many main concerns when Eliyah passed was Survival. How would I survive? How would I wake up and continue to live? Why did I wake up? How long will I feel like this? How long will this valley of Hells darkness consume me? Am I going crazy? These and other questions about life not being fair, and having no control, and apologizing over and over to him that this happened to him, and I his mother couldn’t do anything to stop or prevent it. Feeling anguish, overwhelming sadness, guilt, a hurt so embedded in my heart that I felt the physical manifestation of it.
Farewell on this side of eternity is a difficult journey!!!!
So to you who has recently entered this place. This place is grief. It has no respect of person. It doesn’t care that you’ve visited it many times. It will do its best to consume you and build residence within. Well, for a time it is ok. Contrary to what we may hear others say or what we may have believed before, it is ok to not be ok. Grief is a disorienting thing. There is a hole in your heart that wasn’t there before. I carried a heartbeat inside of me that no longer beats, and the excruciating pain of that is unlike any other. Grief challenges you. It makes your body weary, tires your mind, weakens your soul. It causes you to overthink, underthink, (not a real word but it’s fine) It makes you gasp for air. Grief causes every container around you to fill your tears. Tears of heartbreak, tears of what is lost, tears of what will never be, tears of utter disbelief that this is happening, and happening to you, tears of shattered dreams, tears of lost hope, tears of slight happiness because you are still serving although you are in despair. Every tissue box around you consumed. And just when you feel there are no more tears, a thought, memory, sound, smell, something triggers and the tears fall yet again. I would say enough, I don’t have any more tears to cry, but here I am again with a wet pillow because my body could not withstand any other place outside my bed.
This was the loss of my son. My firstborn and only son. I knew him the longest of my children. He made me happy with kicks in my belly first. And now he is no longer living on this earth. How do you live with your heart shattered in a billion pieces? You take each moment by it’s moment. You begin to defy the impossible, withstand the storm, and take on the enormous task of Survival. This grief and mourning that you are in although irrational is survivable. Oh it rocks and shakes your foundation of what you believe. It makes you question your faith. I asked God so many questions after Eliyah’s death. Soooooo many questions. I needed answers.I wanted answers. God said in time. But I said no. I need them now. He said in time. And with time came healing. Healing was a very far away thought. I needed not to feel so much pain, and I needed the antiseptic now. With time came answers to purpose. With time came strength. The reminder that love really is stronger than any other thing. The love that I have for Elijah. The love that family and friends had for me, and most importantly the love that God has for me. Love kept me afloat. It would not let me drown.
There is life after death of your child. There is hope. I have learned that I have no control over life. But, I was enduring. Every day I was bearing insurmountable pain. I was given a strength that only God could give me. He had given me grace and peace. I asked him for it. My friend Carolyn spoke of Beauty for ashes. That is what God was giving me. This void I had, he was giving himself to me. It was a choice. I was never going to get “over” this, and shame on people who tell you that. They don’t know that you don’t get over this. There are no “at leasts” I heard all of this and more. I thank God for the grace he gave me in those moments to just smile, walk away, because they don’t get it. Love, kindness, and grace goes a long way with others who empathize yet say things they don’t understand. You don’t just move on, and get passed this. I chose to survive. I chose to press my way towards healing. It’s a choice. Be kind to yourself. You have never faced anything like this before. Trust in God doesn’t come easy. I battle for it. I’m choosing to turn my grief into gratitude for what I still have…and one day I will see Eliyah again!! Praise God!
Faith doesn’t guarantee good feelings. For me, it’s expressed thru the dark shadows….I’m praying thru the pain… So you too must pray through the pain. Grief doesn’t get better, we get better at it. This time is rough, but don’t be discouraged, do not, I repeat do not give up!! This journey is so difficult and full of complete heartache at times. I can’t wait for the day when sorrow ends. God says it will be so one day. We will see our loved ones again. We don’t get to “choose” the obstacles that are in front of us, but to hope, to trust God is a choice and because he is my ultimate source of everything, that’s what I must do..Nothing else matters. Persevere, endure, press through and pray, and let the tears fall!! It must get better. It will get better. Through the adversity, I/We can find rest in God’s peace…There’s comfort in his plan…
I pray that Our loving God would enfold you in His awesome arms while you journey through this painful season of your life. I pray that He will even carry you on the days that the weight seems unbearable. Never give up on trusting God. He does great things when we don’t know why or when and turns the worst day into our best right before our eyes if we allow him to keep his place in our heart. Suffering does not create character, it reveals it. Healing on this side of Heaven will continue everyday. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Isaiah 40:29 and for that, I’m grateful.
From a mother who knows to you…I love you all and you are always in my thoughts and prayers!
Happy Birthday Eliyah Linell
Today marks 1 year to the date that I began this blog. It is also my son Eliyah’s 23rd birthday. I have to say that I am proud of myself for starting something in honor of him. A blog that has allowed me to express many things of my grief journey. Thank you for following and I pray it has and will continue to bless you, bring healing, and understand my grief a little better.
Milestones as today hit very hard. The unpredictability of grief is what I hate the most. You make plans, and then boom! Plans change in a heartbeat because now you no longer “feel” like it or maybe what you thought you’d do you no longer have an interest in doing. Or the weight of the day just became so much that it became to much of a burden. Sometimes it’s other people’s expectations that you must now battle through.
Eliyah was born on the 4th of July. So, in addition to dealing with all the above. It’s a national holiday. People invite you to bar-b-que’s, for some it’s a beach day, and the fireworks at night. This requires leaving the house. It requires being around people who may not get it. they may want you to be happy as not to bring their celebration down. I can look at a the from the perspective of a clock. I may be up for all of it around 10 am, and not want to see anyone at 4pm. I may just want to reminisce with close family until noon and see some people for a little while at 6 pm. There’s really no rhyme to the reason. It’s just how grief works.
Today, I had plans to celebrate at Disneyland, because it was one of his favorite places, and mine. However my plans changed do to some other things coming up, so I will more than likely go next week. It’s been 7 birthdays now without him and I have felt the sting, emptiness, hole, every year. every year I’ve done something different. some have been planned and others not so much. I too what feels necessary for my heart, spirit, and mind. 1 year I remember I forced an ended early a trip because my mother wanted me to celebrate with the rest of the family in town. I was miserable.. I didn’t want to be around anyone, and 1 family member even asked “oh is today his birthday”? just completely unaware and didn’t understand my pain. I vowed to never let that happen again, and it hasn’t. I celebrate and honor Eliyah as I see fit. Not under anyone’s request.
I am honored to have been chosen to be Eliyah’s mother. He came into this world calm. I had no drugs, no I.V. and a very relatively pain free natural childbirth. Eliyah lived his life loving us his family, and had a heart for others. He loved God and although he was 6 foot 3, he was a gentle guy. He loved his sisters, and was proud to be their older brother. I miss him more than anyone could possible think. Time doesn’t make my heart less empty. Living my life for God makes it bearable.
Happy 23rd birthday in Heaven Eliyah J. Linell
Encouragement through grief…
I only want to see Gods glory because my heart knows that that is the necessary key to my survival. The difficulty in special or non-special days will not outweigh my joy in the celebration of those that I love still here.. I celebrate through tears. This faith of mine says to count it all joy. God never stops working on your behalf…not even in his silence. .When I have an ongoing emotional circumstance that brings pain/anguish, I know that God’s word “pokes” peace back into my heart. It takes your mind off of the issue. The situation may not change…it may even get worse, but God is in control. He is just, & he is right. He is sovereign. I rejoice in who God is. Throughout this journey, there have been some pretty dark days. Endurance is key. Life is not fair & may not even be pleasant. Our perspectives are limited. We don’t always see the big picture of the plan. As I have experienced a deep loss, & as I continue to walk this journey of life, I must remember…to hold everything loosely, and never ever forget God’s presence through these times…..Grateful for grace, mercy, love, and faith
You don’t plan God’s plan.
July 4, 1996. Eliyah J. Linell was born. January 19, 2013 Eliyah passed away. 16 years on this earth he lived a wonderful life. I am blessed, and honored that God chose me to be his mother. Yes, God chose me. Through the easy pregnancy and even easier birth Eliyah was peace. God’s plan was that he would be born on this particular holiday although his “due” date was July 7th. I never thought that in God’s plan that would include him leaving this earth before me at such an early age.
Have you ever heard the phrase “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?” I started hearing people say that from an early age. I don’t think it has anything to do with God actually laughing at you, rather God thinking ok, you can plan that if you want but my plan for your life will go as follows: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. Although this scripture is used often to comfort, it is not a security blanket like Linus carries around with him. If it’s looked at in that way one is led to believe that sufferings are not meant for them and prosperity will rule forever. No, it is to know that we have a confidence and hope that God will be there to help in the midst of our suffering.
I think about those in the Bible who had plans. I’m sure many did not grow up thinking they would be great men and women of God. Look at the life of Job and what he and his wife endured. I don’t think he knew what was to happen in his life. That God would use him in that way. I also did not know that God would use me in this way too. I did not know on Jan. 19th Eliyah would take his last breath here on earth. Our plans were to go to Disneyland that day.
What I can be confident in is that God knows what he is doing. He knows how to plan my life better than I ever could. No, Eliyah’s death wasn’t even a thought in my plan for my life nor his. I saw him growing up, graduating form high school, going to college getting his dream job and starting a family. I struggled to know that he would never get to do any of it. I prayed and asked God was this part of your plan? Is this your will for our lives? Is there any way to reverse or change what has happened? Do you love me?
It is difficult to imagine anyone loving Eliyah more than I do, but God does. He understands the depth of my love for him. He still watches over every single detail of my life. What is important to me, is important to him. All of this is true, yet I still grieve, I still mourn. I ignore those that say move on because it’s been X amount of time. I use the date of Eliyah’s passing as a grid to pass everything across.
I don’t have the luxury of planning out God’s plans. Some would get into the debate of was it his plan for him to die so soon? What is God’s role in suffering? Why did he allow this to happen? All questions of deep and painful complexity. I know that I must engage in the realities of human life. In all its grace, and grief. The love of God still shines in my life. No matter what, God does have a plan, and it is always good. Faith in his plan isn’t believing that what I want goes. Knowing that he is Sovereign and loves me and draws us to fulfill his plan for our lives no matter what.
So, no I nor you get to plan God’s plan. We are not in charge. Do you find yourself asking God why? when things are good, and you just sit back and enjoy, and then only ask him why when bad things happen? This is what I will end with. God’s plan for your life will never ever outstrip the grace he makes available to help us and enable us to live well. There is no promises of escape of struggles, sorrow, or pain. Jesus himself said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ” (John 16:33)