Chapter 1 of my blog through “Grieving Forward – Embracing Life Beyond Loss” by Susan Duke
As the author begins to tell her story of hearing the news that her son had been in an awful car accident, it becomes very apparent that this is going to be a tough read. Her story, as she relates it, is very similar to mine. Yet in looking back to the first time I read this book, I was in awe at how she could be so sorrowful and unsure of the future, yet remain faithful. Now after reading this book at least five times, I can tell you it is and always has been about faith. Faith is tested over and over through this book and throughout my journey. Faith is the key to unlocking the door of sorrow and pain to joy and peace.
Getting the news….
Suddenly hearing the news that your loved one has been hurt or is sick is one of the most gut-wrenching things that can happen to a person. But to a mother it touches your soul like nothing else I know. There is a sense of panic and urgency to get to them as quickly as possible. To not leave their side for a minute. I know that I never left Brit’s side except for a quick trip to the restroom. Somehow I instinctively knew my time with her was limited. I had to spend as much time as I could praying and holding her hand because that is all I could do – everything else was out of my control.
As I read through chapter one I knew that the author had experienced that “lack of control” feeling because she was not there for him when the accident occurred. She was not in the room while the doctors fought to save his life. It must have been dreadful to not be in that room. As a nurse I know it’s the worse feeling and as a daughter, granddaughter and mother, I know all too well that feeling that I don’t know what to do or what to say but just to sit and pray.
So as she waited in the waiting room praying and hoping for a miracle – it did not come. The doctors came out and told her the words no parent should ever hear – “your son is gone”. My heart tore wide open for her as I read that. I read this book for the first time three to six months after Brit passed away. The memories still vivid in my head those last few hours of Brit’s life. The multiple codes and attempts to resuscitate her. How with each one my heart broke a little more. Then hearing the words in the very early hours that morning on October 13, 2006 – “her heart can’t take much more” and the nurse who sat on the bed performing chest compressions, our eyes met and locked and I knew she was feeling hopeless yet she continued diligently. As we looked around the room everyone’s face told the story and I said “enough”. It all stopped and my daughter quietly passed away into God’s arms at 6:55 am.
The author speaks about coming home after the hospital and having heard that her son had just passed away. Feeling numb and confused, somewhat disoriented to place and time. That is the shock of hearing something so horrific that your body goes into this protective mode. That is how you are able to function during the days and weeks after a child’s death. It’s as if someone else is in charge of your body and you are just along for the ride. I was even able to sit down at my computer that day and write the following:
Today, October 13th, my daughter Brittany passed away from heart failure. She was 17. I mourn for her, yet I know she is now with God and is healthy. No more seizures. No more pain. No more sadness. How wonderful it must be to be in the presence of God and see the beauty of life with no bad.
I’m am very sad. The reason I live is now gone. I feel as if I have lost my identity. I haven’t felt this much pain since my mom died 18 years ago. Now I have buried my mother, my grandmother and now my daughter. God this sucks! It is everything I can do to breathe.
Leaving her a the hospital was the worst. Even though I know she is in heaven with God. The mother in me didn’t want to leave her.
Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers.
Not sure where that ability came from, but what I do know is that it was the beginning of a journey that would take me to places I couldn’t have imagined. My soul opened up over the next few years and I wrote about all of it. I think back that that weekend and how I went through the motions. Many people came and dropped off food and family came and went. Friends stayed with me helping me prepare for her Celebration of Life that Sunday. I even designed the program. How – I don’t know, but I did it.
The author talks about the “voice of darkness” and I knew that voice well over the first few months and years. Especially when you are alone and vulnerable the voice of darkness comes and attempts to discourage, destroy and consume you. I remember a passage where the author says something that I’ll never forget was the moment I knew this book would help me because she knew what I was feeling right then.
“How could my son – so energetic and vibrant, so happy and full of dreams – not be coming home? Lord, this can’t be! He’s only eighteen (Duke, 2006)!”
As she remembered that moment she had been laying on the floor face down crying out to God asking “Have I done something wrong?” and I so remember laying on my floor and sobbing, wailing to God and asking why. I felt like I had nothing left to give to the world because everything had been taken from me that mattered.
It was in those moments that I found the only comfort was my silver bible. I reached for it and read if often, clutched to my heart, ranted and stomped through my house demanding answers from God. Then collapsing onto the floor and reading passages through a flood of tears and knowing there was a sense a peace that would come when I leaned on God and His word. This was a very valuable lesson I learned for this author. And I know for sure that this first chapter was the turning point for me and I hope if you read her book, you too will find that starting place that will bring you out of the dark and into the light – one step at a time.
Until next time,