I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I can’t imagine how things are going for you. My mother passed away a few years ago from a disease that she had had for a long time, so I know something about losing someone who is close to you. But your son’s death was all of a sudden and very catastrophic.
Thank you for sharing your suffering with me. I’ll try to help you in any way that I can. As you mentioned at the end of your letter, in the end, the only way to live through something like this is to realize that God is in it. Not only is he in it, but he is actively in it for his glory and our good–even your son and his family’s good.
I don’t pretend to know what that good is, but I know that God is God and I’m not. I also know that he has been faithful for 58 years of my life and for a lot longer than that in history. God has always been a faithful lover of our souls and he always does what is best.
These things can seem like empty platitudes, if you there is no faith. But faith is trusting in a faithful and trustworthy God and ours is. So these things are full, glorious and wonderful. So whatever you are going through emotionally, remember that God is in it all, from first to last and he’s in it for you.
Here are some things you should expect: loneliness, emptiness, sadness, pride (in a son who saved his family at the loss of his own life), anger, and probably a host of emotions that I haven’t mentioned. These will undoubtedly come to you in waves rather than stages. For me they often came one right after another and seemingly without any rhyme, reason, or order. Sometimes they came as a result of a sound, a smell, or for no known reason. All of a sudden, I would find myself weeping and not have a clue what was going on. Sometimes there was no emotion at all, I was just empty.
One thing I know is that whatever the emotion or feeling, the best and only helpful thing to do was to take to the throne of God and stay there until he “fixed” everything. I know it sounds immature and childish, but I think we need to take these things to God and get up in his lap and let him engulf us with his presence. This is true even if the emotion is anger. “Who does God think he is taking our son away when he had his whole life left to live?” There are a lot of Psalms where the psalmist cries out to God in anger because of something he perceived was unjust and God hadn’t handled like the psalmist thought it should have been handled. But he stayed there yelling at God until God changed his heart and he realized that God was God and always knows what is best. So, go ahead and pour your heart out to God while you’re sitting in his lap.
I’m not sure what I think grief is. It may be tied to how unnatural it is in the original plan for mankind. Death wasn’t supposed to exist in the first place and every time it happens, we have an almost violent reaction to it. It is certainly a physical reaction. How long it lasts seems to be tied, at least a little bit, to our faith in God’s sovereignty over our lives. When we can give it all over to him, the grief seems to lift a bit. And as time passes and we are quicker to give the thoughts over to God quicker, grief seems to fade.
Again, I’m sorry for your loss. If I can be of any help to you, please don’t hesitate to call on me.
Some books that might help:
Why Does it Have to Hurt: The Meaning of Christian Suffering, by Dan McCartney
A Grief Sanctified, by J.I Packer
A Grief Observed, by CS Lewis
Transforming the Valley of Grief, by Thomas Mason