Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Moving Forward: Lessons from Warren, Post 3

I have another post or two I would like to share under the heading, “Lessons from Warren.”  I find this lesson is best conveyed through a letter. Many of these thoughts came to us in the day or two following Warren’s death and were then shared at his funeral.  Since this time, we have considered it a privilege, albeit a difficult one due to the nature of our bond, to share these words with others who also find themselves burying a child.  I believe these thoughts can apply to any loss, and I am grateful my son taught us these truths.  (New pictures and updates at the end of this post.)

Warren's footprints I finally requested from the funeral home 5 year later.
As you can see, grief is a process!
“Blessed are those who mourn,
 for they will be comforted.”
-Matthew 5:4

Dear friend and fellow bereaved parent,

I know it breaks your heart to bury your precious son today.  And with the pieces shattered and scattered, you wonder how you will keep going and what life looks like without your child physically here.  Our hearts break with and for you.  You are on a journey no parent should have to endure. Death at any age is unnatural and does not feel right.  And when it’s a child, your beloved baby, it’s all the more devastating. 

I want to encourage you to grieve however you need to and realize you aren’t called to nor do you have to “move on,” even though well meaning people may expect or encourage this.  Death is not something we must move on from or make peace with, because it is due to the brokenness of this fallen, sinful world – something that God never intended.  Death shows there is a break in the system.  Our proper grief and love point to Jesus, the reality that things are not right as they are, and the prayer and belief that there is a mighty Savior at work redeeming all the broken places.  

In time, you will find you are stronger than before the tragedy ever struck, and you’ll be able to move forward – but you don’t have to move on.  You carry your beloved child and your special moments together on earth with you as you move forward into God’s purpose for the rest of your earthly life and as you eagerly await the joy of heaven and all made new.  This hope and this truth actually make this life richer… beauty from the ashes (Isaiah 61:3).  Indeed, "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21).  

Please know you aren’t alone, although I know it can and will continue to feel that way. I pray you will take care of yourself, doing only what you feel up to – giving yourself a lot of grace – feeling free to fall apart on the hard days and also free to smile (without feeling guilty) on the surprisingly good days.  And know that, although the hole remains, the pain’s intensity really does lessen with time… and I find the hole serves as a sweet reminder of how much I LOVE my son (I never realized this kind of God-given, all-consuming love was possible before Warren was born!) and of the HOPE we have that death and this fallen world do not have the final say.  

You were given the privilege of creating an eternal soul, something (and someone) that can never be diminished by how devastatingly brief his life on earth was. I trust God will draw close to you and surprise you with joy while you wait to join your precious baby when all is made new.  I’ll never forget him or the difference his life has made.

With love,
Mary Elizabeth and Meade

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
-2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Pictures and Updates:
-We were incredibly encouraged by John's appointment with a new doctor last week, the incredibly compassionate and skilled Dr. Bruce (orthopedist). New doctors and doctor's appointments in general can be anxiety provoking, so it was such a gift and relief to find this wonderful doctor...someone who wants to partner with us for the long haul and truly cares for John!  The good news is that he doesn't think John will ever require surgery despite his slight scoliosis and kyphosis. 
-For the first time ever, John began prop-sitting last week all by himself with the help of these fancy elbow-immobilizers!  We are so excited, and he is too!

-Our little newborn is doing great!  Here are pictures our very talented friend from church took of Andrew at 9 and 17 days old (the second shoot was due to Daniel's lack of cooperation during the first one, haha):

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