Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Voice of Grief: Two Years Later

Sunday night, while searching old documents on my laptop, I came across a folder that read "journal." Sometime in 2013 I decided that keeping a paper journal was no longer the thing to do and began typing my entries. In the end I went back to the old fashioned pen and notebook, forgetting the 3 months worth of entries.

Yesterday, Feb 23rd, was the 2nd anniversary of what is known in our family as "the tragedy." The day that 19year old Kody accidentally shot and killed his older brother Kyle, then in shock and sadness turned the shot gun on himself.


Sunday night while reading through the 3 months of journal entries, I came across this, one of the nightmares that I had shortly after the deaths.

Journal entry from 2013:
              Last night I had an awful dream about Kyle and Kody. I was at their funeral and kyle, in the coffin, had blood seeping from his eye. He then got up out of the coffin, took a seat beside me, and began asking questions.

What happened?
Where am I?
How is Mawmaw?

               In the dream I couldn't take it any more so I ran out of the funeral home. But wherever I went I was met with a TV that was playing the funeral. I woke up in a cold sweat and had Roger turn the lights on. I sat up in bed praying until I was comfortable enough to go back to sleep.

A few weeks after the tragedy Roger was working a shift as the on-call chaplain at the local hospital and was asked to come in because of a deadly wreck on 65. A family of four on their way home from vacation had been involved in a fiery crash. The parents were burned alive. The small children were the only survivors. When Roger arrived in the trauma room the nurses were prepping the kids to be flown to the university hospital. Roger prayed with the children, listened to their concerns, and helped explain what was going on. He told me of his heart break when the little boy asked prayer for his parents. Being that the boy was not yet in stable condition that information had been withheld from him. Roger, taking the little boys hand, lead them in prayer, knowing that the parents had not even made it to the hospital.

That story sticks with me because it helped bring me out of the "poor me" funk. When bad stuff happens loneliness sets in. We begin to feel that we must be the only people in the entire world to feel loss and heartbreak. Though our loss is unique to us, it is not unique to experience loss.  To be willing to love is to be willing to experience loss.

I do not think God took Kyle and Kody to teach our family a lesson, or test us, or punish us.  The God of my understanding doesn't do stuff like that. We humans have free will. Things just happen. Sometimes bad decisions are made and people get hurt . . . even killed. For me, the beauty of being a Christian is not that bad stuff doesn't happen to us, but that we are given the ability to see goodness even in the midst of despair. We have these things called church communities that consist of people willing to weep with us, pray with us, listen to our doubts and anger, and guide us through the rough terrain of grief. We have scripture to encourage us, as well as give voice to our pain. 

Though it might not be immediate, eventually the fog will lift, the face of God will be visible again, and we will learn that He was there all along, holding our hand through the tender care of others. 

In the hours, weeks, and months after the tragedy I feared another one would follow. How does father, a mother, a brother, a friend, an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, a grandparent, go on living after such a death? We all make choices in life. We can choose to stay stuck in the "poor me" rut, or we can choose to face grief head on. My family chose to face grief head on.

It is now two years later and we are still grieving, some of us more than others. Grief never goes away. We just learn to face it. Some days it knocks us down. Other days we knock it down. But it is always there.

 Keith, Kyle's twin and Kody's other brother,  has since gotten married to his high school sweet heart. He and his wife Lacey are expecting a little girl in June.

My brother, Jacob, and his wife Shannon are expecting a little girl this summer too!   I'm going to be an AUNT!!!!

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