Welcome back to Pt. 2 of How I Endured and Overcame Complicated Grief!
Part 1. of the post ended on my way to the hospital. Keep reading to find out what happened next. The day that I encountered the most intrusive degree of grief ever imagined also seemed like the longest day of my life! For the most part, walking out of that subdivision in Georgia was the beginning of the end of a life I had known for 18 years.
Really, that short journey felt like longest walk of my life. I remember the moment like it happened yesterday. My heart was pumping hard and fast. All sorts of thoughts were racing through my head. I wondered whether he hurt bad, bleeding from ear to ear, even worse, dead?
Within seconds of approaching the road I saw flashing lights from both police cars and an ambulance.
The ambulance illuminated the most dynamic light because not only was the exterior lit up so was the inside beyond the double doors. Beyond there my son rested on an ambulance bed overshadowed by 2 Paramedics aggressively trying to save his life. Suddenly a policeman ran up and closed the ambulance doors, then it took off. As I ran toward the vehicle an officer stopped me. He said ma’am, you can’t be in here, referring to the accident scene. I screamed, “that’s my son, what do you mean?”
The office abruptly changed his tone! He asked if I was alone? I said yes, why. He said, they are taking your son to Gwinnett Medical Center, do you know how to get there? I hurriedly replied yes, not realizing that I had never driven to Gwinnett Medical Center before. That did not stop me, I ran back home grabbed my purse and took off. I left out alone because nobody else was home. Truly, God was in the driver’s seat. I knew which highway to take but I did not know which exit to take. So not only did God point me in the right direction, He fined-tuned my eyes and instincts to make sure that I did not end up in the wrong lane, too far over to exit when I needed too or worse miss the hospital exit completely.
Once I got there I parked near the emergency room entrance. I got out of my car, ran through the emergency room doors and headed to the help desk. Seconds before I actually reached the desk I began asking a woman behind the desk if the ambulance brought in a boy who had been hit by a car. She asked for my son’s name. Then she plugged the information into the computer. The next words that came out of her mouth was “are you by yourself?” Recollecting what the officer at the scene of the accident, I became irritated. I responded Yes! Why do people keep asking me that? The woman said, he’s here let me get the doctor for you. I stood there shaken, scared and curious about my son’s condition.Read more
Finally I saw a doctor walking my way. He asked if I was the mother? I said yes? The doctor asked that same question that had the affect of of making my blood boil. He asked, “are you alone?” Yes, I replied. And I added, why do you ask? At the very moment I heard voices behind me near the emergency room entrance door. It was my now ex-husband, daughter and friends. The doctor paused until the family got closer. Then he said, “we did all we could do but we couldn’t save him.” I responded in shock, asking the doctor “what do you mean you couldn’t save him?” The doctor was silent so that my family could interject and engage with me to help me process the death of my son.
Finally, after a few more minutes of being devastated I got it. Again, I asked the doctor to take me to my son. He said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea because your son suffered massive head trauma.” Of course, me being a mother I said, I don’t care, I want to see him. My ex chimed in. He said we want to see him, take us back.
The doctor said give us a few minutes to let the nurse prepare him. We were escorted back about 5 minutes later. I say him stretched out under sheets. He looked like he was sleep. The head trauma the doctor mentioned was evident, plus multiple contusions and bruises. The sight of the trauma and thoughts of how he must of suffered tore me apart. I touched his arms forehead and kissed the top of his head. That was goodbye. That was farewell to my firstborn. After ten to fifteen minutes of string, touching and crying over his body I realized he was gone, would not be waking up, or coming home with me. This was the worst day of my life then and still is today.
All I could think about was “I wonder how my life would be like without him it?” The thing that made the loss so horrific and painful was that my son had only been in Georgia 2 weeks before he was killed. And. let’s not forget that I begged him to move there. I lived with that guilt for a long time. You know, the what if syndrome? What if I had not asked him to move to Georgia, would he still be alive today? Well, I know I’ll never know.
Although this incident took place in 1994, the details chronicling the last two weeks of my son’s life in Georgia have claimed a permanent space in my head and heart.
Yes, the old saying “time heals all wounds” is true for most, but for a mother who’s lost her child it is different!
A mother never forgets the last time she touched a child she outlived. In the same way, she never comes to grips with accepting that she could not save him or her. Meanwhile, often she struggles with blaming herself for not doing something she believes she should or could have done.
As for me, “I must have asked God by way of wondering, why me, at least ten times?” But one day inadvertently the Lord switched gears. Instead, He provoked me to ask “why not me?” In other words, who am I to think that someone other than me deserved to endure this degree of pain?
Before my grief had transformed to anger and inconsolable sorrow. If that were not enough, I was also livid with the young woman who killed my son, so much so that I settled for refusing to consider an important fact about the tragedy, which was, “she did not intentionally kill my son with her car?”
For almost a year following my son’s death I allowed these grief fueled beliefs to establish rules for my heart to operate around. No matter how hard I tried, on my own, I could not let go of the nagging hurt brought on by the loss of my firstborn. Believe me when I tell you, “there is no loss comparable to the degree of despair that losing a child ignites.”
Thankfully, God found me before I lost myself. I remember when as if it was yesterday. I had tossed and turned all night in bed the night, wrestling with Satan, searching for a light at the end of the grief’s tunnel. It wasn’t until later on that I realized how broken I had become. No matter how many times I searched the list of people that I loved, not one of them was capable of putting my heart back together again.
But one morning, I woke to God’s voice. Consequently, the Lord His began to speak life into my dead heart. Little did I know, my time had come! God had showed up to take on my debilitating grief and sorrow so that I could resume living the life He had planned for me. All that He asked of me was to be still, keep quiet, and receive Him. This was the day God chose to heal me, patch up all those wounds caused by the stench of death, and, accept that brevity of life and the moment of death are not mine to determine, not even my son’s.
Shortly after, in 1995, I ran across an unauthored poem titled “God’s Lent Child.” This poem really put life into perspective for me. In short, the poem tells us that children are on loan to parents, to care for, protect, and love until God calls them home.
“God’s Lent Child”
I’ll lend you for a little while,
A child of mine, God said
For you to love the child she lives,
And mourn for when she’s dead.
It may be one
or two years, or forty
two or three, But will you ‘till I call
her back’ Take care of her for me?
She’ll bring her charm to gladden
you, And (should her stay be brief) You’ll
have her lovely memories, as a solace
for your grief.
I cannot promise she will stay. Since
all from earth return; But the lessons
taught below, I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked the whole world over in
search for teachers true; and from
the things that crowd life’s lane
I have chosen you.
Will you give her all your love?
Nor think the task in vain? Nor hate
me when I come to take, this
lent child back again?
I fancied that I heard them say
Dear Lord, Thy will be done. For
joys Thy child will bring, the risk
of grief will run.
We will shelter her with tenderness,
We’ll love her while we may
And for the happiness we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should Thy angels call for
her much sooner that we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the grief that comes
and try to understand.
- Author Unknown
When a child goes away whether due to death or to the world for most parents, particularly mothers, the hurt is unimaginable. Yet, we can take comfort in knowing that God can heal and comfort anyone who allows him in. ~Ministerneecy~
God does not place us in the life of others at a time when they need us most by coincidence, nor does He invite or encourage us to question His plans or reasons behind His allocation of time. Instead the Father warns us ahead of time to be on our best behavior; love one another, treat each other the way we want to be treated, and love Him with all of our heart and soul.
Through my own personal experiences with grief, both complicated and general, I have learned to give grieving folk space and permission to grieve unencumbered by my presence. I make it clear that they don’t have to explain or justify how their own personal grief is affecting them unless they want to. Giving permission to grieve means allowing loved ones to deal and heal on their own terms. And, in the event there are signs of struggle or difficulty processing said grief, I offer non-judgmental support, sympathy, empathy and help in any way I can to ease the pain.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18