Dealing with grief is perhaps one of the hardest things that we, as humans, must do. Grief may be rooted in a death or illness, or it may be rooted in a loss, such as the loss of support, the loss of a spouse through divorce, the loss of a job, or even the feelings of abandonment that parents often go through as they realize they must allow their children to grow up. The focus of the upcoming 8 devotionals, that will be appearing in the next 8 Saturday editions of The Nugget, will be on how to deal with the grief. The first two devotionals focused on the grieving cycle, and these last eight will teach us important lessons about grief from specific and personal experiences of Nugget Writers. Our prayer is that you will be blessed by this series, and that somehow, whatever it is you are grieving, the lessons presented here will help you to get through.
In Dealing with Grief Part 3, we learned that though we may feel totally alone when we go through our grief, but we are never really alone. God is always there with us, carrying us through. All we need to do is rely on Him. Today’s devotional will take us through the personal experience of Sarah Berthelson and how she and her family dealt with the loss of their son:
GRIEF – OH WHAT PAIN!
“Fear thou not for I am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea; I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
To all that have lost a loved one, you know what grief is. The rest of you may not know the depths of this pain but there will come a day that you will be required to go through this also. Only through my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ did I get through a day. The first thing I did when my eyes opened each morning was think of my three sons, desiring to pray for them as I had done every day of their life. All of a sudden there was that realization that one was gone. I would cry and even call out loud to God, “Ky where are you? Why did you do this?” The heartache and pain in the pit in my stomach were almost unbearable. When I would go out in public, I would see someone that looked like him and I would want to go running to him. I could hear his voice. I could hear his car drive up. I could hear the front door open and know he was walking up the stairs. Oh my precious son, how I hurt!
Shay was living in Orlando, Fl. And Chad and his family were living in Pensacola, Fl. Chad, Brenda, their two month old little boy and Shay stayed with us two weeks following the funeral. When they returned to their homes, their planes left Memphis 5 minutes apart. I had held together pretty well so they wouldn’t see me cry but when they turned to go to the plane, I thought I would die. George and I held on to each other as we walked, crying to the car.
Just to have something else to think about, George wanted to stop at a bearing shop to get some bearings for our nephew Phillip’s go-cart. As he went in, I looked up to the most beautiful, clear, blue sky I had ever seen. With a stomach-wrenching cry, I said, “God if my baby is in the arms of Jesus, show me a bird”. I saw this flicker way up in the sky and I thought it was an airplane. To my total amazement, here comes a bird, straight at my window and as I gazed at that bird, there came one from the left and one from the right and then all three birds flew up into the beautiful sky. I know this is hard for some of you to believe but it happened and it gave me a tremendous peace. When George came out of the shop, I shared what had happened. He did not doubt it for one minute. As I have shared this with friends it always brings tears. When I begin to doubt where my child is, I remember that moment when God sent the three birds to comfort this mother.
Shay moved home soon after Ky’s death. It was such a blessing to have him with me but now I could see the grief in his eyes and as well as those of his father. We were hurting! It would not go away for any of us. It was there and it was real. I wanted to comfort my boys and my husband and I didn’t know how.
I realized one day how I was pushing my loved ones away. I didn’t understand myself. Then Shay said to me, “Mom I know what you are doing, if you push us away then if something happens to one of us, it won’t hurt so badly.” Oh no, I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to hurt my family. They were hurting just like me over our loss. Finally we came to a point that we could talk about Ky. We could talk about our feelings. My sons and husband realized we needed to talk to each other and share what we were feeling.
I remember the night that I realized my husband and I were just sitting and staring out in space or at the television, not saying a word to each other. I realized that this terrible hurt was tearing us apart as a couple. I knew I could not bear to lose my husband. I said, “honey you have to talk to me”. He began to share his feelings with me; he had not been doing so because he did not want me to hurt more. He was a runner and he told me that as he ran by the spot where Ky died, he talked to him. He knew Ky would not be talking back to him but he felt better by expressing his feelings in this way. Then I knew that my husband was as torn to pieces as I was. I knew I must reach out to him and to love him through his pain. I wasn’t the only one hurting
Knowing I did not want to push anyone of my loved ones out of my life, I began to share my hurts with them and they did with me. I cannot say if this helped the pain or not but it kept us close as a family. It took more than a year for us to be able to say, “I remember being here with Ky”. Everywhere we looked we could think of a time that he had been there with us. It is still very hard to get picture albums out of the closet and go through the pictures of vacations and special occasions that we shared as a family.
Through this tragedy, I turned to God like never before. It seemed that after the funeral, my friends did not know what to say to us. I felt so alone in my pain. Only a couple of friends even came to see us. The church family did not know what to do for us, so Ky was not mentioned nor was our grief. If I could say anything to church leadership it would be to have an ongoing support group ministry for the grieving. George and I needed help so we turned to a support group outside our church family. It was not Christ centered and the people there did not know what to say to us either. They had become friends over a period of meeting together for three years. They were at the point they could laugh and enjoy the meeting. They just rehashed the past three years every week. I left as empty as I was when I came.
I knew then that all I needed was God. I got into His word as soon as I ate my breakfast every day. Sometimes I would spend an entire day just reading the Bible and talking to Him. It got to the point that I could feel his presence like he was sitting in the room with me. I loved it! I felt comforted. My God was so real to me. I had often given my testimony at churches and I was asked to share my testimony at the Naval Air Station. I had spoken there before but this time I said no. Months later I was asked again and I felt the Lord was telling me to share about Ky. I did! Because I shared my pain, I had many people come to me and share their grief. God has used my testimony in ways that I never thought possible. If you are grieving today, don’t worry about people meeting the emptiness that you feel, turn to our Lord Jesus for the only real comfort available. He will never leave you nor forsake you. I know that he counted every tear that I shed and will continue to shed. May God bless you, as He has my precious family and me, as you go through this day, regardless of how you are hurting.
“I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell all Thy marvelous works” (Psalms 9:1)
Friends, please remember: When tragedy strikes, all you need is God! He’s the only one who can get you through! These types of situations can drive us closer to Him, and when they do, our lives are blessed beyond compare. And sharing our pain with others is not only one way to help ease their pain, but it also helps to ease ours! Please join us next Saturday, for Dealing with Grief, Part 5: Dealing with Suicide
* Sarah Berthelson’s Book “He Guides My Path”, “Just Jesus” and “Only By His Grace”may be purchased at: Barnes And Noble.com, Target and Amazon.com This writing may be used in its entirety, with credits in tact, for non-profit ministering purposes. Sarah@Berthelson.com
(To access the entire “Dealing With Grief” mini-series, please click here.)