A Daily Struggle

I despise the platitude plastered across social media memes:  “Hard times either make you bitter or better”.

It makes it sound so simple.

As if all I have to do is make a single choice between two equally available paths.

Enduring deep pain and unchangeable circumstances requires continued commitment to face the fork in the road over and over, and to choose well each time.

Every day I am forced to confront my heart’s tendency to turn inward and embrace loneliness and isolation in an attempt to protect myself from further and perhaps greater pain.

Each moment I have to choose whether I will lean into despair or hold onto hope.

And I just don’t agree that there are only two possible outcomes of a life that endures hardship or grief.

Bitterness is certainly an option.

If I allow myself to rehearse the reasons why my son should not have died, why my family doesn’t deserve this grief, why my life is so much harder than it should be–then the case for bitterness grows strong and becomes attractive.  I can pack my briefcase full of evidence and pull it out at every opportunity when confronted with yet another “happy moment” splashed on Facebook.

Bitterness is always a temptation, and I must refuse it everyday.

But “better” implies that I lacked something that I have now gained.

Better diminishes my grief and gives the impression that I’d do it all over again because my painful experience has wrought amazing results.

Losing my son, regardless of what I have learned, is not the same as sticking to a diet or working up to a marathon run or getting a master’s degree.

The subtle danger in declaring myself “better” is that I can decide I’m a measuring rod for others to judge their grief journey.  Or I can become like the reformed smoker who forgets how many tries it took to quit or how hard it was to finally stop smoking and instead mocks those who are still struggling.

I am not “better”.

I am broken.  

I am bankrupt of any illusion that I am the captain of my ship.  I understand by very, very painful experience that there are no earthly guarantees life will turn out according to plan. I embrace with both hands the notion that the most precious gift is people we love and no matter how long we have with them, it will never be enough.

I can’t claim a final victory of faith over doubt, of good out of bad, of lessons learned from effort expended.

Instead I extend my empty hands and hurting heart to be filled with grace and mercy.

I choose love and refuse hate.

I continue to engage this broken world from my broken perspective and offer compassion and understanding to those who are broken too.

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassions, and God of all encouragement; who encourages us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to encourage those who are in any tribulation whatever, through the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged of God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 DARBY






Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

5 thoughts on “A Daily Struggle”

  1. “I am bankrupt of any illusion that I can be captain of my ship” So true and well said, Melanie. Where is the ship? I am drowning! That’s how this broken mama feels most, if not all of the time. Thanks for sharing, praying, helping us as we wait…


  2. My son was killed in an accident on March 30, 2016. I have been following your posts and have found comfort in them. I don’t know what to do at times. I have three other children and two grandchildren. I don’t know how to help them. They are all adults and I worry about my 17 year old grandson, but I can’t even help myself at times. I am trying to trust God to keep my heart, but sometimes I find it hard to even believe. Please pray for me. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Anna, I am so very sorry for your pain and for your loss. Death is awful. Surviving our children is hard. And we do worry about our other children and/or granchildren-for their safety, for their emotional pain and for their spirirual condition. And it is hard to trust God when it feels like He was not looking when our child dies in an accident.

      You are early in the journey. It will take time just to adjust to the idea that your son is really, truly not coming back. For all of you. And it will take time to process all the other feelings you have or will have in the coming months.

      Feel them, it’s OK. Tell God how you feel. He is big enough to take it and He knows anyway. But try to find even one verse to cling to, and remind yourself that this world we see and this pain we feel is not all there is.

      Your grandson will need space to process his feelings too. Let him know you love him. If there are safe people he can share with, that would be great-sometimes kids keep things inside because they are afraid to burden the grieving adults around them.

      May grace and mercy overwhelm you and may God give you the strength you need for each new day.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Anna—I’m seeing this nearly 2 years after your post, and I’m praying for you. Even after 2 years of the new “normal,” the sorrow can still be fresh and debilitating. One thing is sure: what seemed like an accident to human eyes on March 30, 2016, was no “Oops!” to God. He could have intervened—but the number of your son’s days were pre-ordained before his first breath. His life was full and complete and perfect—in God’s eyes. That’s why we are exhorted: Do not lean on your own understanding (Prov 3:5). The secret things belong to the Lord our God. Deut 29:29

      The seemingly premature death of a child will never make sense to the human heart, but it doesn’t have to when we trust God and His sovereignty. I pray that you have discovered a measure of peace, comfort, hope, and healing in this very long and painful journey; and that you will soon find that “It Is Well.” 😘


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