Being Present

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)

 

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!