Amanda was 32 years old when she died after crossing the finish line in a half-marathon race. She was a loving wife, mother of four, a sister, aunt, daughter, granddaughter, niece, etc. Most of all, she was a Christian. She loved the Lord and served Him with gladness and boldness.
It's hard to explain to someone who has not gone through losing a child how you feel. Talking to other Moms, I realize all of us are different and the same. Differences range wide. I like looking at pictures of Amanda. It brings me joy to remember the day the picture was taken or the event that was happening. Other Moms find it difficult and can not bring themselves to look at pictures. I find it hard to eat at times, others have gained lots of weight. Whether it's eating, sleeping, looking at pictures, talking to others or watching TV, we all fight our own small battles. The large battle of actually living and not giving up is the hard part. It's the part of all of us that is the same. The hole. The emptiness.
God is with us. He does not leave us or forsake us. I understand His love more everyday. God freely gave His one and only Son, Jesus for us. (John 3:16) We are not alone. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us, to fill the emptiness, to fill the hole. (John 14)
I do not have all the answers. I only know we can not give up. We can not give in. We have to live life for the living. We have to go on. There are days even now, a little over a year later, I weep for almost the whole day. There are times my heart stops because I see someone who looks like her. I glance and think - there's Amanda. There are times I pick up the phone to call her and realize what I'm doing. There are going to be times and days of deep sorrow. It's okay. They are getting fewer and farther between.
The journey is hard. Sometimes, the victories over the grief are very small - like getting out of bed, going to work, talking or just not crying. Sometimes, the victories are what I consider big - like laughing again, carrying on a conversation, being around others or able to actually watch a TV show and know what's going on.
The first few days were like walking through a fog. Jesus was walking with me and I could feel His comfort and love. The out-pouring of love from family, friends and even people I did not know was overwhelming. Knowing people cared was so much help.
The first year was living in shock. The first of everything - Mother's Day, Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter - were extremely hard. We carried on knowing we must, for the sake of the family. A lot of weeping and crying. Difficult, but not as difficult as this second year has been.
Now we are living the second year. I hate to admit it, but the second year has been harder than the first. Not the weeping and crying, but the living. I guess I am not in shock anymore. I miss her more now. I still pick up the phone to call her and realize I can't talk to her. I have made some bad mistakes, hurt people but I've made some good decisions too. In my case, there are Grandchildren to consider. I love them with all my heart and some days they are what keep me going.
During the second year, I have felt alone at times. I have isolated myself. Others have moved on, I have lived - It's just so different. The change is hard to take at times. I have a few friends who listen and help me along the way. Let me talk while they listen. I have figured out, you can't talk to everyone, it's just their gossip topic. All of it is a matter of getting used to living without her.
Thank God for His love, comfort and steadfast plan. I am depending on Jesus to get me through. It's the only way, He is the only way - to live this life!
"Experts" say do not make any major changes in your life for a year. I tried to abide by the advice as much as possible. Of course, there were major changes that had to be made. Priorities change with the death of a child, especially when there are grandchildren to consider.
God first began calling me to this ministry a couple months after Amanda died. A ministry of helping other Mothers realize they are not alone. He began with this scripture "who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." 2 Cor. 1:4&5
God also used other people in my Church family, other Scriptures, a Bible study, my Pastor, and some friends to show me how He is at work. WE can comfort each other because we what the loss of a child is like, we know we are forever changed, we know there are no right words to say.
We do have hope. We are not alone. One way to heal is by helping others walking the same road. Reach out to someone.
With prayers and love, not only can we get through this,
we can live life loud!