Looking back, Melany realized through each of her losses, God was preparing her for a greater trial—the tragic death of her three-year-old daughter.
The neighborhood moms threw a pool partly for Melany’s 40th birthday. Everyone was having a good time. While the kids played on the swing set in the backyard, the moms took their turn in the pool. Kendall, Melany’s three-year old daughter, decided to return to the pool unannounced. Only ten feet from where her mother was lounging on a float, she entered the pool at the opposite end. Silently her petite body struggled under water until she could fight no more. It was only when the other kids returned to the pool that Kendall was seen lying at the bottom. Frantically, Melany called the paramedics. They tried to revive Kendall’s lifeless body. It was too late. She was gone.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. Melany’s fortieth birthday was meant to be a day of celebration. How could God allow this? There had been so many losses in her life. As awful as the other losses were, this one didn’t compare. Melany only wanted to die.
I’ve never lost a child. For Melany it was almost more than she could stand. The funeral was the first time that I had ever heard another person besides myself wail from the ache of a broken heart and shattered dream. I can’t imagine the agony of Melany’s pain—not just for her child, but also for her brother, mother and father as well.
One loss is painful enough, however, when you experience multiple losses it builds on your previous sorrow. Due to that, you never know what might trigger an episode of unexpected grief.
Girls Night Out
I remember looking forward to our “girl’s night out.” two other dear friends and I had dinner and went to see the movie “Steel Magnolias.” In the movie, Shelby played by Julia Roberts, was a diabetic who risked the welfare of her own health to give birth to a child at the disapproval of her mother. While the baby boy was born healthy, Shelby’s pregnancy worsened her diabetic condition. Hoping to save her daughter, the mother voluntarily gave Shelby one of her own kidneys. The surgery appeared to be a success, but things quickly turned for the worse. Shelby slipped into a coma.
At this point in the movie, I was doing fine, although the hospital scenes began to disturb me. It was all too familiar. As the climax heighten, my friends and I passed the Kleenexes between us. Then it happened. Shelby died. That I could handle, but not the mother’s reaction. Sally Fields, who portrayed the mother, expressed anger, grief, and confusion at the gravesite with such realism, that we could hear sniffling throughout the theater. Still, I didn’t shed a tear. My girlfriends were putting their tissues to good use. I, on the other hand, had lived every word and emotion that Sally Fields had portrayed. I knew if I let one tear fall, I would burst into uncontrollable weeping. I held on.
Soon it felt as if my feelings were stuck in my throat and my heart was racing to the point I felt faint. There was nothing I could do. Calmly, I informed my friends I had to leave. As soon as I was out of their sight, I raced to my car, opened the door, and fell into the back seat. I sobbed in agony for hours. Was I crying for myself, or because I knew all to well the sting of death for all who grieve? Both, I think. No matter what I lose now, big or small, I mourn it with greater depth because of the sorrow I’ve suffered before.
It Can Happen Anywhere
The thing is, you never know where or when it’s going to hit you. You could be in the grocery store, at a ball game or watching a commercial, and suddenly the pain comes rushing back. Holidays and special days like anniversaries and birthdays have the same effect. Just when you’ve begun to enjoy life again, that special day comes along and with it all the memories of that person. Surprise! You are living the heartache all over again. Perhaps your dog dies, you lose a family treasure, or you wreck the car. All these little losses can be a source of great sadness when they come after a significant loss in your life.
The Love of God is Our Healing Balm
Take heart, this is normal. It’s simply part of the process. Don’t give up, my friend. Continue to acknowledge the presence of Christ in you and with you. His grace will strengthen and establish you once again. Soon you will develop compassion for others who experience the same kind of loss. With compassion, you can be that person’s greatest gift during a most difficult time in his or her life.
It hurts to lose the people we love. Still, we can’t lose our faith in God. Our faith was first established when we came to know His love for us through the suffering and death of God’s own Son. Trusting God’s love for us even in the worst of circumstances will build our faith even more. Believing that His love is trustworthy will restore our joy. How? We can have joy knowing that we are sheltered and protected by His love. Nothing can touch you that has not passed through His filter of love for you. Without heartache, we would never know that His love is our hiding place, and we would have nothing to boast about in Him.
That is Melany’s story. God is her safe haven. She rejoices because her hope is in Christ and the promise that one day she’ll reunite with her sweet family. In the meantime, she will comfort others by boasting in God’s love for us all—even in the midst of grief. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exalt in you” (Psalm 5:11).
- How has a recent grief enlarged your past pain? Where do you go for comfort? Do you go to The Comforter?
- Like Melany, have you allowed God’s truths and love to be the healing balm you need, or have you allowed your pain to make you bitter?
- How has God used you to comfort others who have suffered as you have? How does this action help heal your pain?