I remember the first couple of weeks and months after saying goodbye to my precious Jonah at 30 weeks gestation due to a heart condition as extremely difficult and filled with so many ups and downs, I felt like a marionette doll living someone else’s life, because there’s no way that much sadness could be…
I was always that person who believed everything happened for a reason. Living my life with faith that there was a bigger picture to this mystery of life, even if I didn’t understand it at the time. It brought me a sense of peace. I never subscribed to a specific religion but thought of myself as spiritual, seeing the beauty and connection of all things and having a deep understanding that there was something more out there.
Things in my life had always sort of worked out this way. Whenever things got tough, I would remind myself that everything happened for a reason and it would all work out. It always had. Don’t get me wrong, I had endured difficult experiences, but things always seemed to work out.
In the wake of overcoming a challenge I could always look back and confidently find the reason for whatever difficult experience I survived.
Then something happened that shook this to the core. My son died.
He never took a breath outside my body. My world shattered. It was clear that this would change me. However, I didn’t immediately realize the impact it made on my spiritual beliefs. It wasn’t until months later in a therapy session that I realized the implication the loss of my son had on my entire belief system.
If I continued to go on believing that everything happened for a reason, what was the reason for his death? What could I possibly have done to deserve it? How could this make me stronger? I felt so broken. What “lesson” did I need to learn? There was no opportunity so great that I would welcome the death of my child. What did all of this mean?
So, the wrestle with my spirituality began, which is better described as a bloody street fight. I didn’t know what to believe anymore. My entire world turned upside down.
Believing everything happened for a reason seemed to negate my loss; excusing the bone shattering pain because it happened for some divine reason beyond my comprehension.
Well, frankly I don’t care if there was some divine reason for his death. I wanted my baby. I am not okay with his death. It rips my heart out every time I open my eyes to face the day.
On the flip side, believing that there was no rhyme or reason for this pain created a sense of panic. This didn’t fit either. I couldn’t exist in this life. How could I go on living in a world where such agony “just happened”? It made no sense to me.
A part of me hated the idea that there was nothing bigger than myself. But what would it mean if there was? Why let innocent babies die? What a cruel higher power.
I was stuck somewhere in between. It felt like the ground was shifting beneath me. I struggled to find my footing, grasping at ways to make sense of it. Well, guess what? There is no making sense of the loss of a child. It leaves a wake of answer-less questions in a sea of endless voids.
It’s been four years now. Somewhere along the way I stopped trying to make sense of it. For my sanity I had to.
There was no way I would find a reason, and if I did, that wouldn’t make it better. I accepted that agonizing loss happens and that sometimes we have little control over life.
Do I still believe that everything happens for a reason? I’m not sure. I do believe that there is something out there bigger than me, bigger than us. But what I believe even more is that I can choose to create meaning from the pain I’ve endured.
I whole-heartedly believe that when we are left standing in the ashes which used to be our lives, we have two choices. We can choose to let it break us, to lie down and surrender. Or we can choose to reach deep into our souls and create some meaning from the pain; rising up out of the darkness. For me, rising up is a way to honor my son.
The pain is still there; a constant ache in my heart. Some days it’s dull and some days it knocks the wind out of me and I crumble to the ground. But through all of this, I have created a sense of meaning. I will go on living and honoring his short life.
His death will not be in vain. I will make his life matter. His life did matter.
My spirituality is probably stronger than it’s ever been. I cling to it now because here is where I feel closest to him. Although I’m unsure if I believe everything happens for a reason, I choose to believe there is something bigger, something more; a beautiful, peaceful place that he now calls home.