If you’ve missed any part of this series, click on any post directly below.
Part Two-My Storms in a nutshell
Part Four-More Depression
Part Five-Even More Depression
Part Six-Guest Post, Dan Blanchard
Part Seven-The Last Depression Post
Part Eight-Death of a Child
Part Nine-Death of a Child
Part Ten-Guest Post, Holly Good
Part Eleven-Death of a Child
Part Twelve-Death of a Child
Part Thirteen, Death of a Child
Part Fourteen, Death of a Child
Part Fifteen, Death of a Child
Part Sixteen, Conclusion
~Dr. James Dobson
It happens all the time. In the grocery store. At church. At the neighborhood swimming pool. Out to dinner with your husband. If you are a woman, for the rest of your life, the two questions you will have to answer over and over again:
For a long time following Noah’s death, it was very easy to answer people’s inquiries about my children. “I have a son, but he passed away.” It is what it is, unfortunately.
When I was pregnant with Rebekah, it became a bit more complicated because she wasn’t technically my “first” child, yet she would be my “oldest” child. But even then, I would always answer in such a way as to acknowledge Noah’s life and his place as my son. “This baby will be my second child…my first child passed away a few months ago.”
As the years go on, my struggle with answering these questions becomes even more complex: if I say I have three children (speaking only of my living children, Rebekah, Elijah and Elliana) then I feel like I am dishonoring Noah’s memory somehow. My years of parental experience include the time I had with Noah, so it seems unfair not to mention him.
If I say I have four right off the bat, then the next logical question is, “How old are they?” Now I’m committed to a conversation regarding Noah’s death, or at the very least, an explanation as to how he died. Often I feel badly because, even though I personally don’t mind talking about it, the stranger ends up crying and feeling sorry that she ever asked me the question to begin with. And then, I end up consoling HER.
There seems to be no easy way to tackle this situation! Which makes this on-going dilemma a part of this whole loss that I hate. It will always be something I will encounter, no matter how many years pass or how emotionally healed I become. Which makes it a perfect subject for today’s Mothers’ Day post.
The good news is, over the last ten years of answering this question (literally hundreds of times), I have come to terms with the fact that my response, no matter what it is, is not indicative of my love for Noah or my desire to honor his memory. It is simply a polite response to a polite question, to a polite stranger, who is just trying to be friendly—and really could not care less how many children I actually have.
In other words, I do not need to lament over my response or carry any guilt whatsoever over this.
What made the difference between bondage and freedom in this area?
When I view death from an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one, I can meditate on the hope I have to see my precious baby again, and not just on the fact that I should be taking care of four children instead of three.
While I have never doubted there is a heaven or hell, meditating on scriptures regarding death and Heaven helped me to solidify my theology on the afterlife. I always believed in Heaven and knew I would go there when I died, but it was always an intangible concept for me.
I have found that because of the hope within me concerning heaven and eternity, answering a simple question like, “How many children do you have” can turn into a beautiful testimony of God’s grace and ability to bring me back from the darkest place in my life.
“This is the hope of the ages that burns within my breast. It is the ultimate answer to those who suffer and struggle today. It is the only solace for those who have said good-bye to a loved one. Though the pain is indescribable now, we must never forget that our separation is temporary. We will be reunited forever on that glad resurrection morning. As the Scripture promises, our tears will be banished forever!”
It took me a while to get to this place. And if you have recently suffered a loss it may take you some time before you will be able to answer these types of questions with genuine joy. I understand that, trust me. So I want to end this post with a prayer I wrote based on scriptures that discuss eternity with Jesus Christ. It’s written for a parent who has lost a child, but you can adapt the prayer to apply to your specific loss.
As you allow these truths to take root in your heart, picture your loved one in the arms of Jesus, living and loving more than he or she ever did on this earth. Picture your loved one waiting for you and ready to greet you when you get there.
I have no place else to turn, for you alone have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)
Thank you, Father, for the hope I have. Thank you for the fact that this life is not all there is. That (my child) lives—really lives—completely and wholly in your eternal presence. And I make a new commitment this day, that no matter how sad, angry, confused or disillusioned I get with You or with this life, that I will serve You and love You; so that I, too, can live in that eternal place with You and (my sweet baby).In Jesus’ Name I pray…amen.