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)
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?
The thing about grief is that what is true always changes. My life since Eliyah’s passing hasn’t become easier, it’s become more complex. I set on a search for balance, which included setting some much needed boundaries. Friends, family have this idea of how you should be. It’s their perception of how you should grieve. For example, ” You’re too happy today, shouldn’t you be more sad? ” Or “you sure are sad don’t forget to smile it’s been almost ( insert time here).” People unintentionally will fault you or bring guilt because they perceive it should look a certain way. I was and am determined to not fall into that trap. Grief looks different for me than it does for anyone else. Grief is unique. I had to talk to the Lord about this often. Smiling…. I felt how can I do this when he is not here to enjoy? I felt I was betraying Eliyah who was not here. Sadness… does Eliyah really want me to be so sad? I searched for moments yes moments of enjoyment. I wasn’t going crazy, I was grieving. There are so many layers to grief. I experienced people saying extremely insensitive things to me. It’s like did that really come out of your mouth??? You can’t wrap your mind around it. But what matters the most is not what is said to me or about me but my response. What is my reaction? What are my thoughts towards this person? They don’t understand my pain, or maybe they are trying to avoid their own pain, They speak without thinking etc. Whatever the reason may be has nothing to do with me. What was helpful to me was not to respond. Yep, keep my mouth shut and when necessary remove and isolate myself from the source. You think, am I not going through enough without the extra nonsense of people?? yet God was reminding me that even in grief he will get the glory. I had to forgive…Cry out to God to help me because this is hard.. Job said ” I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all. (Job 16:1-2). Can you even imagine?? How frustrating it was to listen sometimes. I had to in my anger and sometimes confusion forgive. I could not allow bitterness to take root in my heart towards these individuals. Did I get mad? Yep…. I sure did. I could not believe that people I knew would behave in that manner or from a different perspective those that vanished, disappeared, went ghost, that simply could not handle or face our loss did that…. I though they would be near to my family and instead they were not. Again dealing with the many layers of grief. Recently, I sat with a young woman who recently lost her teenage son. Part of our conversation, she told me she visits the cemetery every day. I said to her you must do what gives you peace. She said her sister asks her “Why do you go there, he’s not there!” She said she knows but it’s something she has to do for now for herself.. I told her if going to the cemetery for the last month since his passing brings you healing, then that’s what you do. You can not be pressured into grieving how your sister feels or wants you to, or anyone else for that matter. I said people mean well for the most part, but going to his gravesite helps you and that is all that matters. Well meaning, well-intentioned people, has caused me to pray more. They do not understand my pain, and nor should I expect them too. My expectations have to stay in check and I have to focus on what is crucial and beneficial to my healing. Having and keeping my boundaries. It always points back to the Lord. I was reminded a couple of days ago that God’s Sovereignty is over my situation. He is in absolute total control which means I can trust and lean on him through my pain. I hope and pray that you can do this as well.
I remember the first day of school for all my children. Since preschool I’ve taken that first day photo like many other parents. Now, over the years I’ve watched parents get elaborate thanks to fantastic websites like Pinterest. Eliyah passed on a Saturday morning just shortly after returning to school from a 3 week holiday for Christmas break. I know the first Monday after his passing, was extremely hard for his friends, peers, and teachers. The school did a very special memorial over the PA system. He was the anchor and the face in the morning for GVTV. They too did a special announcement for their fallen friend. That was the first day of his empty chair. Each class he was in had an empty chair and a very real realization that he was gone….. An empty chair in Band, English, Math, History, Lunch, etc.
I also had empty chairs. I remember looking back in my driver’s seat in my van and seeing where he sat most of the time. I had to walk by my dining room every day and see the dining room chair that he would no longer sit in. The couch, his bedroom on his bed, my room, everywhere that I ever saw him sit would now be empty……It took a while to not see his face looking back at me while I stood in the kitchen and watched him eat. I remember funny times where he would eat the biggest bowl of cereal and I’d ask did he save some for the rest of us and we’d just laugh!!!
Eliyah was a Junior in High School. The first day of what would have been his Senior year, I was a wreck. My daughter was going to be a Junior now and my other daughter Second Grade. Once again faced with the agony of sadness for one and joy for the 2 others. It’s the craziest feeling. Smiling while crying. That year was the hardest for me. The place where he would’ve taken his back to school photo was empty…. All of his friends/peers were participating in Senior activities. Homecoming, Prom, and all else that comes along with it. I dropped off my oldest daughter at school one day and saw the seniors in cap and gowns outside prepping to take their senior photo… I lost it. I don’t even know how I drove home. My heart felt that missing piece!!!! I did not attend what would’ve been his high school graduation but many told me they honored him and gave a moment of silence. It was so difficult and sometimes heart wrenching to see birthday announcements, and graduation announcements from others. I know they didn’t send to be vindictive towards me but dang, didn’t they know how much I was hurting? The truth is no. They were doing what most do, go on with their lives. I told people that he had already experienced the greatest graduation that one day all of us living for Christ will. He is in Heaven and nothing would ever top that. That’s what my Spirit celebrated. That’s what my faith shouted to me. But my human, motherly side said this sucks…..
Many parents that are grieving are seeing the empty chair for the very first time.. This is the time of the year which we call back to school and many kids didn’t make it over the summer to enter this school year. If you know someone who has or is experiencing the empty chair give grace. A listening ear is encouraged. No one is looking for you to be the hero, just be present. It’s a challenge to see other kids grow, change, have new experiences, develop, while you will forever miss those milestones. Be gentle, and show kindness. To my fellow members of the club no one wants to be in, continue to celebrate the memories. Honor your child the best way you can. Acknowledge all of the beautiful moments you shared. Healing is taking place. Be kind to yourself. There is no timeline, no manual. Say your child’s name and express the love within!!!!! Amen!!!!!!
I have a hope….
I pray each day that your sorrows lighten. The Lord is your strength. I knew that when Eliyah passed there would be new journey ahead of us that we would have to endure. I didn’t want it nor did I ask for it but here it was. I could not change it… I couldn’t close my eyes, click my heels and wake up and he’d be back. I wanted to even bargain with God.. Change this outcome for my peace I cried out!! I wrestled with him, I told God that I thought you loved me…well this doesn’t feel like love… Love shouldn’t hurt I thought. You allowed me to be crushed and I don’t know if I can trust what you say!! I said all of this in my hurt. I will tell you that I was in awe that God gave me so much strength and compassion for others in the midst of those first few weeks. My faith in God, probably just a tiny bit bigger at the time than a mustard seed demanded that I have hope. It demanded that I not lean to what I understood because I didn’t know why. I didn’t have any answers. I knew that this, Eliyah’s absence felt unbearable. My spirit did what my flesh wanted to fight. I was able to smile because deep down I knew God did love me. I kept hearing it….Elizabeth, you’re so strong, you’re so composed, you’re so inspirational, you’re so this and that…..I “felt” like none of that. I was this woman/mother who felt like she has just been stepped on and was struggling to regain focus. I felt insane, helpless, invisible, and very other feeling inside. These were my feelings. I believed in the power of God. I knew that if I let go I would have crumbled. I thought that only the dark clouds of despair were visible. So, I kept my eyes on him. I kept focused on him. I clutched only to him. I only wanted to see his Glory because my heart, my spirit knew that it was the key to my survival. It was imperative so that I may endure. I was brought to the edge of hopelessness. I want to encourage you that God knows your struggle, and heartaches. There is no hole to deep that Gods love can’t reach. Endure, fight, and don’t lose hope!!!! Words alone can’t heal so I/we/ will go to the rock that’s higher than us!!! Amen!!!!
A Mother’s Love Never Dies
Good morning. A mother’s love never dies. There is a spiritual umbilical cord between a mother and a child that can never be broken as my friend Robin once told me. Some days my spirit can be so heavy. There are never any expectations when it comes to grief. No particular pattern. Even on days which seem to be ordinary days, meaning (no holiday’s or anniversaries) my hurt may heart. I remember walking into Target the first time after Eliyah passed. I felt like everyone in the store was staring at me. I wondered if they knew what has just happened in my life, but of course they didn’t. I realized after a while that I was going up and down each aisle not really looking for anything in particular. All I could see or think about were the memories of what he’d say to me when we walked in. ” You know where I’ll be ” Yep, I said, and he’d be headed to the electronic section of the store. But not anymore….. I found myself in the cereal section. I saw his favorite cereal, Honey bunches of Oats! I burst into tears. I stood there uncontrollably crying. I thought to myself I hope no one calls management on me. I’m not crazy, I’m sad. I will be o.k. but not today. I exited out of that section and realized everywhere I go because of my love for him this may happen. Reminders, smells, voices, even people who may look like him. You can’t turn back the hands of time, and each day requires that you move one step forward. One step at a time.. Sometimes, when grief has hit I take a step back. but that’s ok. God understands and it will not always feel like it does at that moment. My prayer for today is for God’s will to be done in my life, and in yours.
Celebrating holidays, birthdays..while grieving
The subject of grief to many can be so complex. As a mother whose child died it is an excruciating, painful experience. It is something that can’t be masked or sugarcoated. Eliyah was born on July 4th, 1996. What a fine day to enter the world!! Every year America celebrates this holiday with fun, food, and fireworks. Families plan getaways, vacations, and fantastic events. For me I celebrated Eliyah’s birth. It’s been 5 years since his passing. Every year I have done something different. The first year, which for many people is the hardest or most challenging, my husband Kevin and I went to the Ojai Valley Inn for alone time and relaxation. I remember my mother calling me a few times wanting us to celebrate with the family. I didn’t want to. I needed to be away, and I was not in any mood for fireworks, kids, and people I knew. And so, off to Ojai we went. I cried a lot. We enjoyed spa time, massages, and I even played my first round of golf. Although it was a beautiful place, and smelled of lavender I actually found it not that easy to relax. My heart hurt, and massages don’t fix that.
Eliyah passed away on Jan. 19 2013. Before his birthday, there was Valentine’s Day, Easter…. and Mother’s Day. I scrapbook which means I sort of keep everything lol. Thank God because I keep all the cards my kids have given or made for me. I went back and read through his Mother’s Day cards to me. I can’t even describe what that felt like. Joy, because I have them, and heartache because there would be no more. As, the year went on and we got closer to the Christmas holiday I cringed. I didn’t even put up any decor. No tree, wreath, lights, nothing. I had no energy mental or physical to do it. And you know what? It was ok. I had nothing to prove, and I needed to grieve how I needed to grieve.
So, what have I learned in remembering and celebrating the holidays? That no one can tell you how to process your loss. You can’t stop the day (birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Anniversaries, ) from coming. God meets us where we are at, not where we pretend to be, or would like to be. You can survive the Holidays while you are grieving. This year we celebrated the 4th of July at The Disney Resort. It was incredible. We celebrated Eliyah, and enjoyed ourselves.
You will face many emotions. You are not alone, Eventually you will heal. For me, it was do not live in others expectations for what I needed. Everyone grieves different and that’s ok. There is no handbook for grieving correctly. Honor your loved one how you see fit. Soon, the good days will outweigh the painfully acute days, and you will see evidence of the healing process.
Welcome to Eliyah’s Heart, a Mother’s journey through grief.
On January 19, 2013 my first born and only son Eliyah Jalaan Linell closed his eyes on earth and woke up in Heaven. He was 16 years old. He passed away from having had a seizure in his sleep.
This blog is a journey of what I have learned in the process of grief. This blog is not a place to argue or spew any negative opinions of what you may disagree with for this is my journey. I will share my stories, thoughts, feelings, advice, and what ever else God gives me.
Eliyah was born on the Fourth of July, and I couldn’t think of a better date to begin. It’s been 5 years of memories, tears, pain, joys and laughter. I love saying that broken crayons still color. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me.