Surviving the first year after the death of our son. How we made it, and what helped.
Well we done it. We survived one whole year. This first anniversary was on April 19th, 2018.
The day our world turned upside down we were left wondering how we could ever go on, could we even live life after experiencing the death of our son?
But regardless of how we felt and if we want it to or not life goes on.
And we made it. We managed. We survived. And we've had joy again. As well as peace and comfort. Only God!
I want to share some things that really helped me, and I that can point to and say this is what got me through-- because of God. I know we all grieve different, and different things help at different stages for each us. But just sharing what helped me. And may it be an encouragement and inspiration to you!
Note: I need to mention that I refer to my son's death as an accident because he died in a quad accident. And that is what we call it in our earthly terms. But with God I don't believe there is any accidents, nor that things just happen. I believe this was a part of His plan though I will probably never know why this side of heaven. I have no doubt whatsoever that our dear son would still be here if it wasn't his time to go.
Prayers were the first and foremost! Right as things were unfolding and we are hearing that our son Clayton may be dead, I started praying. It was the first thing on my mind and tongue. Verbal and nonverbal prayers. Some load, some quite. That is all I could do is pray. (To read the complete story on that day click here.)
First I was praying and crying out for Clayton to receive life again if it was the Lord's will. And then to be able to except it if it wasn't. And praying for my husband that he would stay strong and that he would be okay ( he was at the accident site, I was at the house). Praying for each of the children, especially 12 year old Sam who was the first to find Clayton and was Clayton's best buddy and room mate. And praying for my self.
And of course the prayers of many others were going up too, to the throne, already at this point as well. And I could feel them. That is what kept me strong right from the beginning of it all.
Another prayer of mine that I kept praying the rest of that first evening and into the sleepless night that followed was this, "if there is anyone who knows was Lord, who does not know you may this be the moment, may they come to know you through this." I felt prayer was more from God than me. That He was giving life through our sons death. That is thing right there that really helped me. I could be okay with that. If this is what it had to be, this is the plan God had for us, and people would come to know God through it then I could be okay. Even with my heart breaking and tears flowing down my face.
Though that is one thing that I didn't do much was cry. I wish I had more. It just didn't come for some reason, or maybe I was too successfully at fighting it back. But off and on since then and even here recent the tears have come. I can hardly talk about it yet with out shedding some tears. But that is okay, that is normal, and I am in the healing process.
~ The support and Encouragement from others
We had support from family, friends, and the community immediately. That helped way more than I can express in words! Was very comforting knowing that we were loved, and being cared for, prayed for, and up-lifted in thought even as things were unfolding. A few close friends came right over to be with us. Meals were being planned.
The next couple days after friends came over just to be with us, and to spend time with the children until more of my family could arrive. We were could covered on meals for days, as well as snack foods, and fruit, and much more! The community came together and took care of us!
My Bible, inspirational books, devotionals, and true stories of other families who went through a death in the family.
The book I was in the process of reading at the time of the accident was one by Nick Vuigci. I have three of his books, so not sure which one, but they are all really good.( If you don't know him, he is an internationally know, inspirational speaker who was born with out arms or legs. And as his motto goes,' no legs, no arms, no worries'!! )
So this book I was reading at the time was by my head broad. When ever I laid down to nurse, my then 3 month old baby, I would pick up my book. And I did this with in a hour or 2 after the accident. Of course it was hard to concentrate. But still I read. Kind of both prayed and read at the same time. And in those painful moments while I read, things seemed to just leap off the pages into my heart, and seemed things were made a little easier to bear. And I felt like it was no accident at all that I was reading that book at that time. A God thing.
After completing that book, I dove into other inspirational books, and started looking for books on other peoples stories of loss. I just went from one book into the next, devouring several very quickly. One of the first ones I read about others who experienced the death of a child was, by Steven Curtis Chapman called, Between Heaven and the Real World. Then I read the one by his wife, Choosing to See.
Over the year I read several books and came across others that looked great. To view my list of books click here.
~ Keeping busy
Just keeping my self busy was also a way I kept going. It kept my mind from wandering. Busy was good, especially for the first few weeks. A couple weeks after I got in the garden and started planting. That was helpful, but hard too especially when I went to plant Clayton's seedlings he had started. I planted those in tears and in prayers, but it was still good.
And we started schooling again after about two weeks as well. It was hard to get back at that, but also really necessary and good for all of us. Getting into our normal routine and schedule soon as we could was very helpful for the whole family. Maybe we didn't really want to do that, but as I mentioned above life was going on weather we wanted it too or not, and we had to do what was best for all of us.
~ Praise music
I always enjoyed listing to praise music, but after loosing our son, it came to be more of what held me together and what kept me going than just for enjoyment. When my sister arrived at my house the day after the accident she came bearing several praise and worship CDs and long with one just for the children. We played those lots. And then I looked up songs on you-tube. I would have pretty loud and would sing along to them. What ever I was doing I had them on. They kept me going.
Especially loved any songs that talked about going through a hardships or storms of life.
~ Planning a ladies Retreat
About 4 months after, I started planning a ladies retreat for women who had either experienced the tragic death of a child or husband. I had been praying and thinking about other families we had heard about that had also experienced a loss, and just felt it on my heart to organize a ladies retreat just for them, to be an encouragement and blessing to them.
So I started planning. I prayed and looked for a speaker. I soon found a speaker who matched completely the description that I prayed for. And dug into making other plans, finding a camp and location. It was neat to see things coming together. And different people I told what I was planning thought it was a good idea and encouraged me. So months passed with pour my self into plans and details.
Then it came down to just 2 months left to go till retreat time. ( I had planned it for March 9-11th, 2018. ) No one was registered yet. And no one even let me know that they were interested in coming. But I tried hard to keep my spirits up believing this was God's will, and that several ladies would register yet. But I did have to choose a cancel date in case there was not enough interest.
So the cancel date was set for a month before the retreat date. The days kept going by and the cancel date approaching and still no one registered. I still had faith though that the ladies would register, and I kept that faith right up till the very day before we had to cancel. I told my mom, "Well we got one more day, God just wanted to wait and do this supper miracle and 20 ladies will register tomorrow". Well the day came and went and no one. So unfortunately we had to cancel.
I was very disappointed and was of course left wondering, " Why Lord?" I had so looked forward to it and had poured much energy and time into it. I had been confident it was His will. You can read the blog post I wrote after that door closed by clicking here.
Only thing I can think was maybe I did not take enough time to pray about it, before jumping head long into it. Or maybe it full fill it's purpose for me at the time to keep my busy.
After that I poured my self into writing 2 tracts that I could pass out to people for out-reach.
And continued my writing.
Writing was very helpful and healing. I was in the process of finishing up my little book called, Mother Than a Mother, at the time of Clayton's death. I resumed writing that as soon as I could.
And then started blogging our new journey here on my blog as well. It really helped. Some of my blog post were on what I was going through and how God was helping me, and other posts focused on encouraging others.
~Looking up inspirational sayings
I googled a lot of inspirational sayings and quotes to share here on the blog and on my face book page. Those really help to boost my spirits. I did it to encourage others and for my self. It worked wonders!! And now I have all those piles of sayings down loaded on my lap-top and at my finger tips!
~ As the first year draws to a close
As the first year was coming to a close I was reflecting back over the year and thinking about some things I wished stayed the same as it was right after the accident, and things that of course I am so glad and thankful are in the past.
Some of things that were nice, ( as the say goes there is always a silver lining to every cloud ) was that all the children were trying very hard to be on their very best behavior, and the girls were evening walking around in the house as quietly as they could. They were very careful not to upset me. That is the way I would always like my children to behave. But that didn't last long, only the first week or so. Then things were back to normal that way.
Things I am glad that are gone and past is that raw grief and pain. My every thought that was consumed by the terrible loss of our precious son. And sleepless nights. In the first few months that got easier, and better. And as the year progress it continued so. But still off and on there would be very difficult moments, and even yet. Something said or something done that sparked the memory and glaringly brought back to the reality that are son is gone and that our family will never ever be complete and the same again. When those moments hit I would go to God in prayer over my feelings of grief and pain and He would fix me up again. And I have my ups and downs and lows and highs. But I know with out a doubt that our God loves us, will never leave us nor forsake us, and He has a super great plan for us. To that I cling daily.
Yes, we survived the first year. Not an easy year by no means. But by God's great love and care we did, and quite victoriously I might add!!! And now I want to reach out to others who have gone through a loss like ours. To give them encouragement, hope, and the support that we received in our difficult times.
Please share this post with any one you know that would be encouraged and blessed by this.
And leave me a comment or use the contact box if you are going through a very hard and difficult time right now and you need someone to talk too. I would love to chat with you. And pray for you. That is what I am here for. And I am a very strong believer in the power of prayer! There is power in His name!! AMEN!!
In Him, Mae
I am a wife to my wonderful husband, Paul, of over 22 years. Mommy to 9 blessings, ages 21 to 3 years. Our 2nd oldest son, at age 14, has gone on to be with the Lord on April 19th, 2017. I share about that new road we are on here on my blog.
My first 7 years of blogging.
Great inspirational reading!
"I believe a greater intimacy with God leads us to an inner peace, unquenchable joy, & an ever-lasting hope regardless of what we go through in life." Mae