Dealing with death is uncomfortable, to say the least. In my experience, people don’t often know how to respond to someone healing from trauma. When one has a death in the family, you hear so many people saying either the same things or some really weird things.
“I’m so sorry for your loss.” Me too.
“You’re in my prayers.” Really? How often?
“They’re not suffering anymore.” I wish I were with them. This is more than I can bear.
But multiple deaths? Deaths that start slowly and then increasingly come faster and faster until it feels like a yearly dark holiday that you become accustomed to preparing for? People just say weird stuff.
“What a tragedy.” What does that mean exactly?
“It’s like you have a black cloud over your head.” Ummmm……okay.
“What happened?” They died. One at a time, and now they’re all gone.
Don’t get me wrong. I know people mean well and simply don’t have words to say when something as strange as this happens. I mean, I lost my entire family—four of them in the last five years. It was shocking. I don’t even know what to say about it myself sometimes. Maybe tragic is the best way to describe it. It certainly has caused great suffering, destruction, and distress. But what exactly does that mean? Is my life doomed to be a Shakespearean play that ends in my ultimate downfall?
My mom was a power woman. You know, the kind of mom who gave you about a five-second window to cry when you got hurt, before it was time to wash your face and get on with your day. Who knew that by not giving me time for self-pity, she was preparing me for suffering I never in a million years thought I would endure. When I was going through my divorce, she sent me a card in the mail which is now my most treasured possession. It read:
My Dearest Becky,
How quickly time passes. If I had my way, I’d keep you safe within my arms while the storm of life crashes around you. I won’t always be with you, my precious daughter, but words I can give. When the winds of hope are dying down, these words will live.
Above all else, know God’s the only one who’ll never leave you, the one you can depend on, consistently! The trials you are going through right now will be over soon, so remember how much you are loved!!
When everyone leaves, you lose not only the people you love but also your identity. You lose your security. You lose your support system. My precious Mama pointed me to Jesus years ago, reminding me who I am—a child of the Most High God, who will never leave me. Because of her, that feeling of loss is just that—a feeling. My truth is grounded in what Jesus has done for me and for my family. He conquered death, and because of that, I grieve, but not as those who have no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13). I know I will see my family again one day.
Is losing everyone a tragedy? Without a doubt. Is it my downfall, the end of my story? Absolutely not.
Healing from trauma is possible. My story is proof.
I have learned so much in this journey I have been given. I have learned that Jesus is so very near to the brokenhearted. I have learned that healing is a process, not a place. And most of all, I’ve learned that God really does work all things for good. My story is not the end. My story is the beginning of an opportunity to use what the world calls tragedy for the glory of my precious Savior. I thought my mother wrote these words for me, but she wrote them for you, my friend. She wrote them for all who have experienced trauma and loss. Just as the lyrics in this song from my childhood reflect, this is the story I was meant to share.
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Yes, Mama. Your words still live.