Another Lesson on The Loss of a Son on His Birthday

img_2741  295953_212664595460700_549802247_n  img_2759Today, my oldest son, Kyol would have been thirty years old had he lived.  Life has a way of surprising us and not every surprise do we want. I never fathomed that the child I held on his first birthday and watched grow into a man and father would I also preach his funeral and help cover his body in a grave. I wrote this blog on the anniversary of his death and either on that day or his birthday chose to repost it as a reminder of how fragile life is.

I decided to begin adding a life lesson each year so that this post might be a living memorial to my son. I hope as you read it, it will bring you life and encouragement. I am learning that death has a way of making clear who your companions are. Sorrow, Bitterness, Regret, Un-forgiveness, Guilt, Jealousy, Envy and Failure are NOT my companions and never let it be said they are yours regardless of what life serves you up or what hand you get dealt.

Should Have isn’t a very good family member

In every family there are some distant relatives that often get far too much notoriety and respect in the family. They seem to show up on the front row of every funeral service. They rarely show up for the family reunion and certainly not for Sunday dinner or a wedding. They are absent from the family portrait. Their names are, “Should Have”, “Could Have” and “Would Have.” They won’t call when you are sick and won’t take time off from work to spend a day with Grandmom. But they will cry the hardest and scream the loudest when those opportunities are no longer possible. Make a decision to live in such a way that their testimony will not be the loudest in the end. Do something today that you have been putting off. Create a “bucket list” and start

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.

9 thoughts on “Another Lesson on The Loss of a Son on His Birthday”

  1. I’ve learned that no matter what happened in the past, you can’t dwell in it. You have to move on and forever keep the memories of them in your heart. I focus on the positive things they left in my spirit. I also take comfort in knowing they are in my fathers mansion, I don’t hv to worry about them again. That goes out to my two brothers, sister, n parents.

  2. It’s been 10 years since my brother was murdered in Rocky Mount. “Life is short” became my tragic reality. I haven’t actually reflected on the lessons I’ve learned since March 9, 2006 but I do know that I attempt to live intentionally. “Time heals all wounds” does not always apply and “God makes no mistakes” doesn’t stop the tears. My prayers continue to be with you.

  3. Three words God gave me in February 2015, three words that I would hear my mother and Grandmother say all the time. “God is able”, we have to know and believe that God is able. Hang in there, praying for you & your family.

  4. While fighting back tears and the memory of my own journey of loss, I am blessed by and encouraged by your words. The truth is, and you already know this, your life will NEVER be the same. NEVER. The truth is none of us desire to ever sit on that front row or ride in that black limousine with our immediate family members and yet, none of us can evade that no man knows the day or the hour when it will be our turn. It is unimaginable as a parent that one day our phone may ring with news that will change our world forever. Not long after you eulogized your sons funeral, you also eulogized my 11 year old cousins funeral. I sat there hurting for my cousin and his wife and praying for you while you spoke knowing that although the pastor was speaking, the father was reliving and relating to a moment that no parent should have to go through. And yet….God allowed it. Now that’s a pill to swallow. What I can appreciate is truth and the truth is….it hurts… hell……the truth is…it is unfair (at least it feels like it is) …….I want to thank you for being transparent. You have no idea how therapeutic it is for those of us that have struggled and are still struggling with grief. What has helped me and it’s what I share with others going through a loss is just get through the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next day and eventually the next week, month and one day you will look back and realize you made it another year. Now that’s a miracle. No ones grief is the same….Even if the situation is similar…it’s just not the same…relatable…sure…the same…nope…You are correct, God is sovereign and the fact that you wake up and go another day confirms that yes, you are a miracle. Thank you for pushing, pressing and helping us.

    I’ve put my bucket list off for far too long….Today……..Today…I’ll write too…


  5. Thank you for such a profound piece on your grief. One thing I’ve learned through my journey of grief is to embrace it with an open heart and mind. Often times we are fearful of our losses and/or look at loss as a problem. Grief is not a problem, although it can be an uncomfortable place. I recently loss my father in April. I think about him everyday. His death taught me how to love harder. It’s amazing what we learn about ourselves during our losses. Thank you for being a blessing to others.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story as I sit and reflect that in exactly 17 days, I will go visit my mother on her birthday at her graveside and have that conversation that we have every month of how I’m doing, of how the family is doing and how I miss her so. Death is a thief but your son as my mother have made their journey and hopefully one day, we will see them again. But does it hurt, yes! Everyday. I know that I was a good daughter and God was ever present in my mom’s relationship with me and my siblings so I am glad and my heart is a little eased with that knowledge. Again thank you for sharing your story.

  7. God is our strength. Whether it is the loss of a mother on my birthday or becoming a widow at an early age , God is our strength. I do thank you for your transparency of your pain… But also your transparency of your love of God. My tears flow each time I think of Kyol and I cannot imagine the loss of a child, but I can say that each loss that I have experienced has made my walk stronger in the Lord. It is not easy because I do ask why, but God says live my life and see my glory through your pain. Pastor G..this is how I make it through.

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