Grief will always be a part of the human experience on earth. No one can escape its painful grasp for very long. Though grief is universal it remains a very personal and unique journey to everyone who encounters it. This book is about my own personal grief story. My hope is that it will help others who are living in theirs.
Angela was my first-born child. She was a delightful little girl who grew into an accomplished young woman. Nothing could have prepared me for losing her, yet nothing in my life has changed me more than the grief I have grown through because of her death. I felt pain and I felt completely lost. At points I was not sure how I was going to live without her. Losing Angela changed every aspect of my life. I had no idea at the time of her death that the grief I felt was also connected to the losses I had endured as a teenager. I lost three family members within a three year period. This unprocessed layered grief, compounded with the death of my daughter, was extremely difficult to get through. God guided me as I looked back to my youth in order to move forward and grow through my present grief.
Prior to losing my daughter, I was confident that God was fully in control of my life, and the lives of my family members. Losing Angela tested my faith and everything I believed in. It brought me face to face with not only my Christian beliefs, but with God himself as he walked with me through the darkest valleys and into the light of healing. God personally guided my grief recovery and the lessons I have learned from him have changed me and my life forever. My confidence in God has been restored through the revelations of who he is and what he has done for me.
I hope by sharing how God carried me through my grief that if you have lost a loved one, particularly a child, you will desire to seek him wholeheartedly in your time of grief, too. If you do, I know you will find him capable of handling your every emotion as you move through your loss. I believe you will discover that God’s comfort and personal presence will indeed bring healing to your broken heart.
I also hope that this story might become a tool of encouragement for others who are offering comfort and support to someone who is experiencing deep grief. It is not easy to walk alongside another person who is living with a loss. The journey can seem endless and empathy can run out long before healing comes to the bereaved. Perhaps by looking into my hurting heart and seeing how very lost I was in my own life after my daughter’s life was taken, you will more fully understand how paralyzing the pain of loss can be. God can direct you as you grieve with the grieving and provide comfort and hope to those that are so deep in sorrow that they can’t see it yet themselves. What a tremendous blessing you will be as you assist them in their grief journey.
Finally, there is a story in the Bible, Luke 10:33-35, called, “The Good Samaritan." It is about a man who comes across another man lying beside the road who has been beaten and robbed. Not only are the two men strangers, but they come from completely different parts of the world. Normally they wouldn’t even have taken enough time to greet one another had they passed safely on that same road. But the Samaritan man feels compassion for the stranger who is near death. He places him on his own donkey and carries him to a nearby town where he finds shelter and medical care for the injured man. The Samaritan pays out of his own purse for the man’s needs before he continues on his journey. Later he returns to check on the injured man and to pay any further expenses towards his care.
I love this story and it comes to mind when I think of helping others who are hurting and in grief. For you see, our injuries do not show on the outside, for the most part. Yet the pain we feel in our body, in our heart, in our mind and even in our soul is just as real as the physical injuries of the beaten man lying beside the road. When I first heard that my Angela was gone, in that very moment, it was like receiving a beating on the inside of me. I felt bruised and broken and at points, robbed. My whole world was torn apart. I sincerely felt like I was living in a dying body for a long, long time.
In my story, God was my Good Samaritan, and he faithfully and patiently cared for my needs, not just at the beginning but for the long-run. He brought me back to life and enabled me to find joy and health once again. I believe with all my heart that he will do the same for anyone who has been beaten up by grief and left by the side of the road to die.
I believe that God intends for each of us to be on the outlook for those needing comfort and care following the loss of a loved one. We can bandage the wounded with loving words and shelter them with a listening heart. God can enable us to help them learn to walk again, and eventually smile and feel hopeful as they begin to move forward in their life. I want to be that kind of “Samaritan” for others. It is my greatest desire that this book will become a little like the Samaritan man for those living with grief and those wanting to come alongside them to help