Losing a child can feel like an un-survivable event. Even a heart that is completely yielded to God breaks. Even when you turn to God in the moments of heartbreak and choose to trust Him, you will still grieve. The grieving process is not something that Christians skip. Our hearts break, our families hurt, but we do trust God, and He brings tender mercies that we know come directly from Him.
There are so many moments that I know God placed in my life to allow me to keep living. I can tell you this. Not only can your family survive after loss, it can thrive. Your life can still be full of laughter and joy. There will be moments that wash over your soul with sadness and grief that surprises you, even years later. You learn to let yourself experience the grief. You may have to stop and cry. Then you keep living. You feel the bitter pain and grieve deeply, but you never lose hope. You allow yourself to experience the joy that God has given you today.
In 1991 we left for our camping trip with fellow church families as a complete family. We had two little boys, and we were expecting a new baby in only three months. As we drove from our home in Las Vegas to a campground in Utah, our car was packed with toys, our boys had chocolate ice cream covered faces, and our hearts were full. I remember telling my husband, “I have everything I ever wanted.” Only a few hours later, I was holding my little Timothy’s lifeless body after he had accidentally drowned. I never saw or understood there was a river running through the campground until it was too late.
When I allow myself to think back to those moments, I can still feel the overwhelming numbness, shock, and horror. Then there was the almost silent drive back to our home. The drive seemed so much longer. Our pastor and his wife drove us home. My mind swirled, trying to understand what had happened. Even at these beginning moments of our journey through grief, I knew I wanted to trust God. I didn’t know that I would have to make that choice over and over. I am still grateful for the people who loved us and prayed for us. However, no one could walk through our grief in our place. We prayed for each other and for our living son. We saw God answer our prayers in ways that amaze me to this day. I can’t say which were the most difficult moments; there are too many to relay them all. It was especially difficult after the funeral: after the chaos of decisions, and knowing you must live every normal, boring day with a hole in your heart, a hole in your family. One memory that is so very key reminds me of the ability to grieve and laugh. One of the many sad days I lived through, I was truly embracing my grief.
In our family, I was always the one to make meals, even simple meals. This was never discussed; it was just the way we functioned. On this day, I woke up and simply couldn’t get dressed or fix breakfast. I clung to my sweet Timothy’s favorite stuffed toy and lied down on a love seat that was placed under a window that still had Timothy’s hand prints on it. (I never washed that window, and his hand prints were still there the day we moved out of that house.) My husband asked me what was for breakfast. I replied that I did not know, and I was not getting up. I stayed there the entire day, only getting up a few times, only to return to that window and Timothy’s toy. I gave my husband the same answer when he asked about lunch and then again when he asked about dinner. When he realized I was not getting up to make dinner, he came over and sat down next to me. With the utmost gentleness and a completely straight face, he said, “Don’t worry about it. I will take care of it, but in one year, you will need to get up and make dinner.” I started laughing. He gave me permission to lie there for an entire year! Of course, I was not going to lie there for a year. I made dinner that night, and we survived that day—and more than 9,000 days after.
There is no a secret to surviving the loss of a child—anyone can do it—when they trust God through the grief. You need to love each other every day through every moment. Be patient, be kind, and give one another permission to grieve. Trust God over and over again. Laugh at what is funny, and embrace the family and the joy you have today.
It is with deep gratitude I would like to thank Cassie Weaver for pouring out such deep pieces of her heart and letting us glimpse inside her world today. What a blessing her testimony and vulnerability are for every parent and every believer in Christ! Thank you so much, Cassie, for sharing how God has carried you through your grief. May you continue pressing into Him as He continues holding onto you.
Cassie Weaver and her husband Rick are the parents of six children, one of whom lives at home with the Lord. She is a member of Stonebriar Community Church and serves both in Awana and the Children’s Choir Ministries.
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