Lessons on The Loss of a Son

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This time last year I received that phone call that every parent dreads and while other parents were preparing for graduation, proms, weddings and family reunions, I was preparing for a funeral. My 27-year-old son, Kyol had died in a car accident along with two other promising young men. Since that day, I have talked very little about it. I have talked very little about it because what do you say anyway, because it won’t change anything, because you don’t want to be made to feel like a victim and my personal favorite, because there’s something deep inside that isn’t quite ready to give up on the thought that this is all just a sick joke and any moment your child will come walking through the door. Well, of course I know Kyol isn’t coming back but I am learning a lot about life and about myself. I thought sharing some of what I am learning would help someone else as they go through the difficulties and even tragedies of their life. There are many lessons, but here are five.

It’s a short life

The first and obvious lesson is that life is shorter than we realize. Who doesn’t know this, right? But in actuality few of us live like this is indeed the case. Take it from a dad who has preached his son’s funeral, committed his body to the ground, pronounced the benediction and helped cover the grave with dirt – You don’t have time for some of what you are doing. You don’t have time to argue. You don’t have time to be bitter. You don’t have time to be jealous. You don’t have time to be petty. You don’t have time to work all the time. You don’t have time to not say, “I love you.” You don’t have time to live someone else’s life. You don’t have time to act like you don’t love when you really do. You don’t have time to be unforgiving. Be more selective with how you spend everyday and with whom you spend it because you don’t have time to waste.

Sorrow keeps showing up

Sorrow has a lot of faces (guilt, anger, confusion, regret, loneliness) and for all those people that tell you, “It’s going to get better”, well – THEY LIED. It doesn’t get better. It doesn’t go away. What will happen is that God will show you over and over again the separate miracles that are a result of your sorrow. These miracles won’t ever replace the sorrow but they will give you something more life giving to focus on and you should do exactly that – focus on those separate miracles and stop waiting for the sorrow to check out.

Strength is available

The truth is sometimes a contradiction. Here is the truth. “We are always and at the same time stronger than we realize and not as strong as we thought yet always as strong as we need to be.”  – G. Allow me to give you permission to just be you. Forget trying to be strong. Just be you. The notion of, “when I am stronger then I will….” is a myth. Strength is added as we go. As you go back to your life, your job, your children, your dreams, God will provide you the strength you need.

Sight can’t be selective

The first time I saw my son was moments from his birth. father_and_sonTen fingers, ten toes, healthy and quite perfect. The last time I saw my son was in a body bag with a charred body, only recognizable by his dad. I have no regrets in unzipping that body bag, after having been warned that I would never forget what I was about to look at. Rather what I would never forget is what I said to my brother who stood there with me. Three words – “That’s my son!” These glimpses or views of my son reminded me of life and how we should NOT see people. Too often we see people in terms of events and not in terms of humanity and relationship. We see the greatest successes or greatest failures in a person’s life and then use those events to define them. Remember King David in the Bible? We define him in terms of Goliath (success) or Bathsheba (failure). But in between those events was the real man – “a man after God’s own heart.” It is the memory of the “in-betweens” that we find life and joy. Stop viewing people from the lens of birth and death because God always sees us as his child.

God’s sovereignty is a guarantee

God is still God and He is still a good God. I wouldn’t want his job. I can barely hold my little world together so it hardly seems feasible to question He who has the whole world in His hands. When I consider the totality of life, I must confess, “God is still totally awesome.”

Perhaps, you can add to my experience and even help me or others. What lessons have you learned during your greatest loss?

I welcome your feedback.

10 thoughts on “Lessons on The Loss of a Son”

  1. June 24, 2012. I felt like the world stopped. For me it did. My mother died. My best friend. My greatest support. For the last three years I have been struggling with this ‘new normal” the reality that my mommy is actually gone. I have had dreams so vivid and real about her still being here with me that I for a little while I started to lose my grasp on reality. For the most part, I’ve tried to keep my grieving private. Afterall, she was my mother and only two other on the planet could honestly know the pain of losing her like i know it. Since that day, there are two nuggets of advice that I repeat almost everyday. Pastor, you told me that it was ok to grieve, but dont become hopeless. And Ed West told me not to be afraid to ask God the hard questions. ITs so easy to give up when you feel like the one person who you leaned on the most is gone. But I could not afford hopelessness. And asking God the hard questions revealed so much about my relationship with Him. I have been forced to closely examine relationships and put my faith where it belongs, in Him. Yes, I still get sad. No, it will never be easy. God has used what I felt was tragedy and turned it into ministry, and even forged new relationships. I’m still a long way from being “ok” (whatever that means) but I’m not hopeless. I love the above point that strength is available. Ive had friends and family tell me how strong I am. No, I’m just as strong as i need to be in that moment. My mother left a great legacy. And I will continue to work hard to add to what she already accomplished. I hold onto the lessons that she taught me and pass them onto my own kids. Thank you for your transparency, Pastor.

  2. Nothing in this world could hurt me at this point in my life. I felt and feel the worst pain that I could of ever experienced. The ultimate hurt is loosing my 15 year old son to a heart condition that we knew nothing about. Life is to short for the foolishness out here and the people that like to be in the midst of it all. I look past it all now. My ultimate goal is to make sure I see my son again. I am walking by faith and not by sight….
    “I Will for WILL”

  3. I can’t say I know how it feel to lose a child but I do know how it feel to lose a love one. I loss my mom she was killed by my husband and it took me a long time to forgive but with God I was able to forgive.

  4. hi. I must say that you are strong man. I don’t think I would be doing as well as you are doing.I admire your strength and courage. YOU are a TRUE MAN of GOD!

  5. Through my loss I have learned that “forever does not last that long.” Despite promises and plans, we, as finite human beings, cannot and should not give another being that guarantee because our time is not in our hands, but in God’s.

    My prayer is that God will continue to sustain and strengthen you and your family until you all are united in Glory.

  6. It’s been twelve years since the death of my sister. She was stabbed fifteen times by the hands of her son. My sister and I found her in her bedroom on the floor. I’ve had to live with the vision of seeing her beautiful smile and the pain of a horrific death. I promised God after going through that I would never tell anyone who has experienced a loss that it gets better, because you are 100% correct, it is a LIE. I know the power of God because I would have been lost my mind if it wasn’t for Him. My sisters’ death is something that I rarely talk about, because I don’t think people truly understand the pain of losing someone tragically when you are strong in the Lord. Thank you so much for sharing, even though it really hurts, it shows me God is still in control.

  7. Never experienced the loss of a child, yet I find this story incredibly touching to my heart! Very well explained! God Bless!

  8. The lesson that learned is a result of having lost four members of my immediate family in a relatively short time period. To write about them is, in fact, therapeutic.

    In May 2007, my oldest brother died suddenly on Mother’s Day weekend. He was the first of my siblings to transition to eternity. My mom was crushed and I hurt for her deeply, but I didn’t fully understand her pain as his mother. I know that she never got over his death. After my brother’s death, I heard my mother say on many occasions that she’d never want to experience losing another child in death. It was too painful.

    Shortly thereafter in 2009 on Veterans’ Day, my mother died suddenly. What I thought was going to be a short hospital stay for her ended up being one of the worst days on my life. That experience was surreal and I couldn’t process it. I hadn’t gotten over my brother’s death, yet I was to be confronted with a new grief. My mother’s words regarding never wanting to experience the death of another child resonated with me because a few months after my mother’s death, in May 2010, six months after my mother’s death, my oldest sister died suddenly, just as my brother and my mother had done. At that point, I felt like I was going to have to be committed to a psychiatric ward. . .the pain was unreal. I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t breathe. Fast forward seven months, my niece, only a few months old, dies suddenly also. At that point, the emotions that I felt ran the gamet. I was angry, sad, mad, hostile, bitter, jealous and everything in between. My waking thoughts entailed one question, where do I get off this ride?

    Well, the process toward healing is an uphill journey that seems insurmountable. Trust me, I know. Part of me honestly wanted to nurse my pain because it was easier than moving toward healing.

    Well, after what seemed to be forever, God gave me a revelation about my loved ones by dealing with my intense grief for my mother by the way of questions. I was a momma’s boy. So, my mother was born in 1936 and God asks me where was I in 1936. I wasn’t born, I thought to myself. Revelation. Another question from God to me, where were you in 1966? Again, I thought to myself, I wasn’t born yet. God revealed through those questions and others that my mother was His idea and His creation and that He had both created her and sustained her all those years without any involvement from me and that He would continue to do that same even outside of the earthly body that I knew and wanted to see. I had to see the truth in how God had thought of, created and sustained that which I loved with all my heart. And I did see it. Another revelation. From those revelations, though I was still hurt from the loss, I could give God praise for such a wonderful and majestic creations (my mother, brother, sister and niece) and for His love to share them with me.

    As Pastor Gaillard indicated, you never get over such loss, you simply adjust the barometer and hopefully move forward. It’s an individual journey. Take it at your own pace and let God give you your revelation.

  9. The year of 2014 was a tough one to say the least. At the beginning of the year I watched someone I love die and later on someone I loved died suddenly, not to mention a host of other circumstances that came my way. But through it all I know that God truly is sovereign. During the those times last year I know it was He who carried me and was teaching me. I know that we are three part beings, mind, body and spirit. And God let me see the separation of this union with my grandmother. When her body started to fail her, her mind and spirit carried her through the day. Then her mind started not cooperating, but it was then I saw her spirit increase. If I spoke to her about people she seemed to stare into space, but when I spoke of the Lord her hand would raise.

    After her death God told me to look at Numbers 27:18-20. This is the time when Moses was about to die and God told him to lay his hands on Joshua, so that he could have some of his spirit to go on and lead the people. Then the Lord told be to define legacy. I looked it up and webster defines it this way ‘something (such as property or money) that is received from someone who has died’. No grandmother didn’t leave me money but what she left was rooted in her spirit. A heart to love and serve God even when mind and body fail you. Even as you are hurting and in times of sorrow.

    Later that same year I lost my son, brother and fiend Kyol. This rocked my world but it was then God took me back to Numbers again and then he showed in all the ways that Kyol had touched me with his spirit. Like Moses with Joshua he transferred something to me. Through his touch I have gained confidence in ministry and about the work I do. I will never forget him, nor his or my grandmother’s touch on my life. The legacy they left me is priceless! Remember the legacy not the loss!

  10. Pastor, thank you for sharing your heart! As a child of God I know that He makes no mistakes. I have to be honest, I never expected to have to say a final goodbye to my 3 month old. I didn’t know when he opened his eyes so bright & wide with so much energy that it would only last for a couple of minutes, I didn’t know that I could hurt so bad but have so much peace at the same time. Pastor, I’ve said a few times this all feels like a dream. Elijah is still at the hospital. This can’t be real!! He was doing so well. He was on the way home. Elijah remained and remains a mystery to his Doctors. There has been no medical cause of death. I’m at peace with believing Elijah’s death is all a part of Gods perfect plan. Although I do not completely understand (for now) how He allowed me to carry him for 9 months, overcome, be birthed & exceed many obstacles only to see 3 months and 1 day of a very full life. How dare I question God? He indeed is still God and a good God!!

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