I have reflected a lot the past two years on all I learned from Ben and about the ways that God prepared me for losing him before he was gone. And in the last few days I have read countless posts by people who are overwhelmed by the current situation in our country and all that they have lost. I am no different.
The current crisis in our country makes me increasingly aware of the sanctity of life and my place in this world… but I do not face this situation overly fearful and without hope. Because this is what I know:
- I know what it is like to lose control.
When Ben got sick, I quickly learned what it was like to lose control. I lived by routines and dietary restrictions because they were something that I could manage. When he died, we learned quickly that no matter how hard we try, there are some things that are just plain out of our control. This is no different. We still have choices, but many things are going to be out of our control in the coming weeks. Embrace flexibility. Take control of what you can (routines, schedules, and keeping your family safe). Let go of the things you can’t control. Holding onto those things too tightly will only stress you out more.
- I know what loss feels like.
You may not have lost a spouse or a child, but we are living in a time when most everyone is going to suffer a loss. If I have repeated any sentiment over the last three years it is this. Your loss may not be the same as my loss, but it still matters. It is okay to be sad about graduations, trips, and plans that won’t happen. Do what you can to make the best of those situations. Choose a way to make those moments still happen for you and your family, and try to find a way to smile through them. But there is no loss “too small” that you can’t shed a few tears over it if you need to. Don’t belittle anyone else’s pain. Sit with them, tell them it is okay and try to share some joy with them. Psalm 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
- I know what it is like to homeschool my children (and to give myself a whole lot of grace).
This is my kids first year in public school. It was a very conscious decision on my part to NOT homeschool this year. And while I love homeschooling and the freedom it allows us, I felt that God gave me peace to let them go this year. Like many of you, I did not plan on homeschooling this spring, nor did I want to. Yet here we are. We are only on day 2, and one of my children embraces this process wholeheartedly, while the others are already struggling. I’m an experienced teacher and homeschool mom, and I am acknowledging this will be hard. Find your tribe, share the joys and trials, and lift each other up. Some of us will enjoy this time, and others will not. Find a way to give yourself grace. It doesn’t make you less of a parent to be honest and say you are struggling with this! Remind others to give themselves grace too!
- I know what being lonely is like.
I have never felt more alone in my life then when I lost Ben. Even in the moments when I was surrounded by others, I was so lost in myself that I felt like I was in the world alone. There are going to be times the next few weeks that even if you are surrounded by your family (24 hours a day 😊) that you are going to feel alone. It’s okay. We were made for fellowship with others. God intended us to have others to hold us up and share life with. No matter how alone you feel, I encourage you to reach out to someone else who you realize might be more alone (a single parent, a widow, someone without children, or elderly). Knowing there are others out there going through the same thing can make you feel less alone. Hebrews 13:1 says, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”
- I know who holds the future.
I believe I have been through a LOT of suffering and hard times in my short 39 years on earth, and I can tell you this: I know who holds the future. Even in the darkest and most trying times of my life, I know I was not alone. And in those darkest moments when I had no one else on earth to depend on, I found my relationship with the Lord growing the deepest. Embrace your church, embrace your online Bible studies, and lean into the truth of the scripture. Because while we don’t know the future, I know who does. John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I do not know what tomorrow holds for any of us. But I do know these few things. And I know that others, who have grieved and lost, know more than you can imagine about the pain that the world is in right now. We know it, we have lived it, and we are still here to say you can get through this too!
I am praying much health and happiness over each of you. Keep on loving and encouraging others. We will get through this together!