Sunday, August 07, 2005

How can I keep on living, why should I keep on living? Hasn’t every parent who has buried a child had to face those two questions and had to face the traps that threaten on the way to finding answers.

One real problem is that because the pain is so great, it shuts everything else out. Then, once you are finally recovered enough to be numb or in shock, the only way you can reach emotion is to reach into the pain. It blots out everything else and seems to be the only real emotion left.

Sometimes children will start misbehaving so that they can be punished, because the emotions tied up with punishment and sorrow break through to real emotion and let some pain out. A child can become addicted to that cycle, and it can be hard to break.

Worse for adults is becoming addicted to anger and rage and pain as the only touchstones left, ones that will swallow a man or a woman in bitterness, leaving only dregs.

It is funny, but watching The Pacifier (my five-year-old had seen it several times, so I had to see it too with her), I was brought back to the only way I found to escape the traps. In the end, the hero realizes that children and family are the only things that matter, and he choses to remain near the children and to find his own way to starting his own family. Everything returns to that, to living life outside of myself, as the real meaning and the real hope.

That pathway out and away from anger for me was by remembering my wife and children and their needs and by finding a way to keep on going to keep on for them, while at the same time keeping Paul’s warnings about bitterness in my mind. "Any root of bitterness" is how the scripture reads, warning the saints in Jerusalem against the pain and loss that the fall of the city will cause them (Paul wrote them before the city was sacked, with blood running ankle deep, and the people scattered). Justified or not, I had to let all bitterness go.



I guess I should note that this blog is about faith and hope and surviving. About the three children we buried in a five year period and about finding our way home. Some times I write about related things, or about life in general, but everything comes together in living life for a real purpose and with a real hope, and when those are obscured or hard to see, living for those I love until I can see the hope and love I need for them again.

I write these essays for many reasons, but most of all to help those who are going through the same things I am going through, in hope that what has helped me might give them hope or tools to help them in their journey.

I pray that God will bless us all.

Stephen

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stephen,

Your weblog and especially your material at the Living Beyond Loss page are invaluable resources.

You know what you are talking about, so I have taken the warning against bitterness seriously. My anger was just not going away, and perhaps it was already festering into bitterness. I couldn't find any way to diffuse it, and things were getting worse and worse. So instead of diffusing it, I started my thing, and found a place for it to explode.

-The Angry M

annegb said...

I've heard that depression is anger turned inwards. I've struggled with the same emotions you describe, Stephen, and doubt I will completely overcome them in this life.

Some days I just tell myself that the best I can do for my family is keep breathing. Some days I do better. I have more hope than I did last year.

I hope we get some credit just for suffering, because my suffering has not made me a better person.

Stephen said...

I really think that it isn't the suffering but how we deal with it.

In this life, even the greatest of us has so little real power or glory compared to the least of the angels. I don't think that is what we are herer for, nor do I think that we can overcome this life.

BTW, I have to say I really appreciate comments. I get so very few that sometimes I wonder if what I say has any value to the people it reaches.

John W. Redelfs said...

In 1983 I my brother Tim committed suicide. He was my closest loved one, the only one of my siblings that joined the Church after I did. In my sixty years of mortality, it was the greatest pain I have ever experienced. And I was angry with God for five years before I finally overcame my grief and forgave the Lord for letting it happen.

But I have never lost a child which I imagine would be much worse. However, one of my children has turned against the Lord, dropped out of the Church, turned to substance abuse, and gotten in trouble with the law. His mother and I have felt like we were losing him forever because we are really devout and fervently believe the teachings about "forever families." I have never seen my wife suffer like this. And I am in nearly as much pain. Losing a child to death is undoubtedly much worse, but losing a child to sin is pretty bad too.

Thank you for your post. I can't even imagine the suffering you must be going through.

Anonymous said...

Stephen,

Don't write for the comments. Just because people aren't commenting, that doesn't mean they aren't reading, thinking, or learning. You are one of a handful, less than a handful of people in the mormon weblog community that consistently speaks with a clear voice of reason and wisdom.

Writing about loss, that's out of the realm of experience for many people. You also avoid the goofy controversy that generates much of the discussion on the mormon weblogs. Comments are enticing, but sometimes aren't a good sign.

On my own weblog I've been tempted to pander to comments, write things just for the sake of controversy; I've written stuff that I thought was pandering and so I never posted it because I wanted to keep the writing real, and keep it true to what I set out to do.

So don't despair; people are paying attention and what you write makes a difference.

-The Angry M

lchan said...

I read your blog regularly and I comment when I have something to say, but sometimes I just don't.

I appreciate your honesty and your insight. Keep writing.

mawcawn said...

Having buried two children and having experienced having children getting lost in sin, I can tell you that I feel losing children to sin is worse than losing them to death. Hope and faith are the only things that keep me going sometimes. We have been promised that our lost ones will return if we remain faithful. They may have to pay to the last farthing for themselves if they insist, but they will return.
I don't want my kids to have to go through that, but would not take their agency, if I could.
In both cases, death and sin, I have been through the "why me?" stage of grief.
My answers may be different than yours. Mine have do do with--"because they needed you and need you" --"because you won't become lost because they appear to be"--"because 'this too, shall give thee experience'".
Trying to live a righteous life doesn't mean there will be no pain.
I am convinced of our Saviour's love for us. I know that He will not expect more from us than we can do-WITH HIS HELP. I also know that He knows, better than I, what my limits are -- and that, sometimes, He takes me to the very edge of those limits. And then, He helps me grow.
Perfection wouldn't mean that none of our children would die or would commit sin, so we must let go of our guilt for our children's acts.
I remember that Adam and Eve were good parents and they had to go through the horrifying experience of having one child murder the other. Lehi and Sariah had children who abused and tried to murder another of their children. Our perfect Father in Heaven has had 1/3 of all His Children rebell before they even got as far as this.

Keep holding on. The light at the end of the tunnel is Christ.