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)

 

Brokenness..

The medical definition for pain is the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body. Mental or emotional suffering.  Brokenness is defined as forcibly separated into two or more pieces. When I think of my grief and my heartbreak, I can become so overwhelmed that it is challenging to get out of bed.  I have to focus on the work it takes to grieve purposely.  I have to intently focus on the fragments. There is sadness, grief, anger, and this luring traumatic imprint that shows itself.  I’m left to gather up these pieces. Most days I’m successful in the maneuvering around the triggers, and many days where I fall to my knees asking God for help….The memories for the most part of wonderful, but there are also memories that leave me immobile. I remember finding Eliyah in his bed early that morning unresponsive.  I remember the 911 call, I still see the horror on my daughters face as she entered his room, I have the memory of seeing my dad hold onto my fireplace mantle for support and shed tears ( at that time I’d only seen my dad cry three times in my life). It’s been six years and these memories are still here. I’m unable to forget. I still see his face three hours before leaving my room saying I love you with that big smile. I’m happy that I still have that memory, and many others that make me smile.

  I read somewhere recently that the wound is the place where the light enters you.  My life was severly interrupted. My daily life patterns were shattered. Profound changes were inevitable. Death interrupts, it causes pain, it brings brokenness to the forefront. It delivers wounds so deep that most won’t even talk about it. But as much as we hate it, we will all experience it. It’s unavoidable. Grief is pain. Grief expresses our connection with our loved one that’s gone and in and of itself it is an expression of love. Bottom line is once you have experienced the darkness, you appreciate the things that shine.

The passing of Eliyah has changed me forever. In two days it will mark him leaving this earth six years ago. I feel it just as much today as I did the moment the paramedics pronounced him gone.  My heart was shattered into an infinite amount of pieces. However, it has made me stronger. More resilient. I have courage that I didn’t possess before. I love differently, I share differently. I give more than I did before.  It pushed me to set realistic goals, changed how I communicate with others. I am more transparent, I have developed better coping skills through hardships.  Yes, grief has changed me.

In my being broken, I drew closer to God. I had to go on. Trusting in his grace. Holding on to his faithfulness.  He told me in Psalm 139 that I could trust him even in times of grief.  This was going to require a spiritual healing.

When I think of a broken bone I know that it takes time to heal. It is also a process that involves much. Its usual cause is that there’s has been some excessive force applied and the break or shatter occurs. It causes much pain. It also varies at the duration of the healing.   This all correlates to grief. It can’t be rushed. It can also be gruesome, and ugly. It is a process that like the healing of bones will vary in time from person to person. Grief has challenged me to invest differently with my time, and gave me light as to what really matters and what doesn’t.

I’m grateful that pain, being broken, and grief has an end. Just like our bodies, it is temporary. Have you heard the saying ” This too shall pass”? It’s true. There is peace on the other side of pain.  We can rest in Jesus, and disengage from the busyness of the world.  Healing takes patience and time.  There is joy in the mourning. God will give you peace for your pieces.

Think about what areas in your life that has forever changed you. Has God reminded you that there can be peace in the midst?

Endings and New Beginnings

2018 is ending and 2019 is beginning. A new year is upon us and for some around the world it has already entered. I’ve seen social media posts where many say, ” I’m stepping into the new year like, or I’m flying into the new year like, Or this is me in the new year” with pictures an memes to match. What are people thinking when they do this? Is a new year really a new slate wiped clean, or is it just another day after another day with a different date? Well, it means different things to different people. For many the end of the year is reflection to what was accomplished, what resolutions were completed, and perhaps what goals were made. For others it’s a reflection to what maybe was lost, a recap on failures and what goals you did not meet.  Growing up I know people who fast for a new and better self in January. Nothing wrong with that. If it will make you better and bring you closer to God then so be it. But I encourage you to do what God leads you to do.

I don’t make Resolutions. Rather I pray and write down my goals that I’d like to accomplish. I’ve had people say to me ” This will be the best year yet!” I ask how do you know? It could be my worst year yet. I sound like a Debbie Downer right? well, it’s really according to your faith. What I hope is that every year will be better than the year before. but sometimes very painful things happen to us. My faith still says it is well. It may not look like this is the best year, and may definitely not feel like it but it is well. Since Eliyah’s passing I value words more with intent. So what do I say for 2019? It will be whatever God’s will is for me. I know that I have many prayers, plans, goals, desires, will they all be fulfilled in this upcoming year? Well, I dont know. My faith says blessing will continue. I hold on to what is true. God is not absent in my sorrow. God loves me, and his word is true.

 Next year, and every year to come tell yourself that you will apply an antidote to what ever you face. Have a hope. Stretch your faith. This year 2018 is ending ready or not. Be inspired, look for nuggets of joy, gather up and be motivated. A small step is still a step. Tell me what you think? What do you say or do in the New year?

Onward!!!!! Happy New Year to you!

Thankfulness

Everyday is a day of gratitude. In times of grief I ask what are you thankful for? What do you think about and say “although my heart is shattered, I’m thankful for…….? When Eliyah passed I heard many people say well at least you have.. at least it’s not.. at least..blah, blah, blah. I hate that phrase at least. It gives such a meaning of  grrrrr. Grief  means feel what you feel and don’t let anyone tell you “at least” he’s with Jesus “at least” you have other kids ” at least”you had such and such years — you have the right to grieve to the most even though the culture says at least –

Healing is a life long journey.  The main thing I learned in holidays is listen to your self.  If you don’t want to be around a lot of people don’t,  if you don’t want to shop don’t,  if you don’t want to cook don’t . If you have others who are depending on you ask someone to help carry that load this year cause emotionally and physically you are just not up to it.

I am thankful for Eliyah. He was such a joy here on earth. He was my first-born and only son. I’m grateful that he was loved and loved in return. I’m thankful that he lived his life with very few if any real complaints if any (I really can’t remember a time he complained) I have been blessed. I’m grateful for the friends that checked on my daily, weekly. those that called me, or came over to just sit with me.  Those that cried with me and let me share my thoughts. I’m grateful for the family that checked on me, and listened. I’m thankful for Grief share. Grief share helped me tremendously to heal.  I’m thankful for various books that encouraged me. I’m thankful for prayers for me, thankful for work that allowed me to escape sometimes when I didn’t want to just sit at home. I’m thankful for my kind neighbors. I’m thankful for my bible study group. I’m thankful for Disneyland. Disneyland has been my families second home and so many magical memories were created there amongst other blessings that occurred there. I’m thankful for other moms sharing their stories of grief with me. I’m thankful for those that spoke truth in love, those that didn’t let me wallow for to long. Those that allowed me to cry unapologetically. I’m thankful for my relationship with Christ. For he is the reason that I can rise out of bed, breathe, walk, live, share my story, he is my reason for it all!! The grief, the pain, life it will all get better, but better will never look like it use to and things will never be how they were . There is no easy way around it no sermon to make it better nothing . Just one step of faith at a time of wrestling and hurting and “sorrow upon sorrow”.  Though there is a place in my heart that longs to see Eliyah, I have family and friends here that I love and cherish. Remembering  those that have pain during this time. Tears are cleansing, you are loved, joy will come, and pain doesn’t always remain. Life is precious and so is time. There is hope, healing, and beautiful new memories that will be created.  Stay in a place of Thankfulness. I’m a witness that it’s possible. If you can please tell me what you are thankful for, I’d love to know 🙂