It’s not that I count the days, but I do. It’s around 3,285 days. I also count hours, count days, count months, and I count years. This year, 2022, marks the ninth year since our son Eddie died, tragically, unexpectantly, and honestly, unfortunately. It didn’t have to go the route that it did. I don’t write on it every year, but the last time was four years ago, and it’s heavy on my heart today, so I take to the keyboard again in hopes of sharing encouragement and strength for you on your journey. I’m sure I was in a different place then. Aren’t we all in other places since 2018?

Where am I now? Well, it depends on the day. It depends on what memories assault my mind. It depends on what current issues related to my son’s death are forced upon me through erratic emails, harsh phone calls, caustic social media posts, or even direct threats from those you would never expect to receive. I have learned firsthand of the strength and stamina available from the Holy Spirit in times of great sorrow and complex grief.

Many of you reading this have extenuating circumstances related to your grief and loss. It’s not as straightforward or cut and dry as many think. Even with the complexities that you are still facing, as if sorrow wasn’t enough, the Lord is with you. He is ready to provide you with the needed help to face any situation. I want to affirm that in your life today.

Overall, I’m doing very well and strong in Jesus, as is my family. That’s a fantastic thing to write. I’m a little startled at re-reading that line. I’m very well and strong in Jesus. Oh, what grace He has shown to my family and me! Overall, I’m very well and strong in Jesus. Beautiful grace!

It continues to be a long journey, and grief is not linear. It doesn’t often go straight from point A to point B. It’s full of grief triggers, memories, good and bad days, laughter, and pain. Those circuitous experiences are to be expected.  Don’t be surprised by what you’re experiencing. It’s exactly what someone like you, going through what you’re going through, would experience.

Please make no mistake about it; grief changes you. Beyond what I could ever think, grief has changed me. I appreciate how God has made me more compassionate and empathic as I journey through grief. I am coming to appreciate the opportunities God has given me to encourage others with genuineness and sincerity that comes through the abiding presence of Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

In addition to losing Eddie, there are nine years of a precious relationship we have lost and counting, so grief is new just about every day. We’ve gained a deeper insight into who our true friends are and are grateful. We’ve learned who our true friends are not and are saddened. It’s true; grief never goes away. I wrote on that recently here. You’ll never get over your suffering, but you will learn to live with it and use your pain to comfort others, just as God predicted.

I’m so grateful for my faith in Jesus. He is my all in all! I know that He has sustained me through these nine years, and we will continue to grow in his grace moment by moment. If you are struggling today, please know that God hears your prayers right now, right where you are. Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief!

Isaiah 53:3 (NKJV) “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

I remember the well-meaning advice folks would share with me that things would get better. I didn’t believe them because the pain was so deep, the loss real. Combining the other external difficulties makes it easy to conclude you’ll never make it. But here I am nine years later, and the Lord has brought me thus far!  You’ll make it through too.

Some days propel me as if I’m a helpless child, right back into that hospital ICU room, or the room for the so-called family meeting which wasn’t really a family meeting, or the hospice floor where my son lived on bare minimum nutrition, or the well-attended prayer meeting that was shut down for such heartless reasons. Yes, those and many more memories like that to attack at opportune times. Once again, God remains faithful!  Walking in forgiveness is not easy. It requires a daily surrender of the onslaught of emotions, memories, and pain. But I can do it.  You can do it. There is no reason to be held captive by things we have no control over.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Four years ago, I wrote, “Our faith has grown through the trials. We’ve learned in real ways that not everything is under our control, and often we must adjust our lives to the control and decisions of others, even unbiblical decisions. We trust God with our lives. We trust Him to do what He wills with our lives, family, and extended family. Nothing has dethroned God in our lives.” I still agree!

It does seem impossible at times to make it through the day. Sights, sounds, smells, songs, pictures, and memories all flood my mind and surround our house, reminding us of that boy who grew into such a wonderful godly young man and reminding us of his son. They are both very missed.

I’m thankful for the time I did get with Eddie. Enjoyable memories often turn into heartfelt losses.

One day, God promises to make all things new, right every wrong, and bring out perfect equity and absolute fairness. We’re promised to be reunited with our born-again loved ones in the presence of Jesus!

That day can’t come soon enough.

Until then, we press forward toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

Philippians 3:14 (NKJV) “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”