Wednesday, April 29, 2015

God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~Easter Sunday~The Devotion

photo by Jean Ann Williams

“For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you.”
—Deuteronomy 4:31
Less than a month later, I didn’t want to think of Easter.
After Easter church services, all I wanted was to fall into bed and sleep. All I needed was to forget the first celebration after Joshua’s death. Our extended family expected us at the home of a relative, but my heart couldn’t imagine visiting at a time like this.

I lay on the bed and sobbed. I missed my Joshua, who became a Christian at age fifteen on Easter. For me, it was a happy memory of that day that I couldn’t bear to remember.
An hour later, though, my husband and I were on our way. Tears slipped down my cheeks the entire half-hour trip. When I walked into the house, I was still sobbing. The men greeted my husband, and they left with him to talk outdoors.
I felt the women’s eyes on me. What on earth am I doing here? They won’t know what to do with me anymore than I do. So wounded by my loss, I sat in my chair and cried.
Soon, my niece, Candice, knelt at my feet and kept her hand on my knee. She stared up at me, not speaking. Her eyes filled, and her tears fell in compassion.
Seeing her sorrow, I knew for sure me being there was spoiling their Easter. I felt bad, causing Joshua’s cousin to cry. I shouldn’t be here.

Candice’s mom bent over and whispered, “Whatever you want to do, we’ll do it. If you want to go for a ride, we’ll go for a ride. If you want to sit here, we’ll sit here.” She wrapped her arms around me then, and she quivered with her own sorrow over the loss of her nephew, Joshua.
When my tears stopped, I heaved a sigh and she let me go.
The other women in the room took turns embracing me and gave a few words of encouragement. Mercy came that hour in the form of women I loved.

Lord, You propelled me into the year of firsts without my son, and showed me a community of women I could trust and who, so it seemed, needed to grieve with me. In Jesus’s holy name. Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2015

God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~Month of April~A Mother's Memories

photo by Jean Ann Williams

Joshua pushed his family away before he left us.

During his last few years, Joshua grew miserable, emotionally and physically. The pain was carved on his face. His poor health came to the point where he had to use a cane to walk because his pelvic bone became damaged by the arthritis. Toward the end of his life doom hovered over him.

With all the signs, the idea that my own son would die by suicide never entered my mind.

I had so many regrets over Joshua’s death that when I thought of the blessings, I hung on to them and reminded myself not to forget. For example, I was glad my husband and I had made the extra effort to keep our home as stress-free as possible for Joshua. I wondered though: Should I have stepped back and looked at my son through fresh eyes? Was there something I missed?

One month before Joshua died, he walked outside to where I was hosing off the driveway. “Mom?”

My heart leaped. Joshua spoke my name! I hadn’t heard him say my name in so long. When I looked at his solemn face, my moment of joy fell flat. Would I ever again see him smile? I pushed aside my concern for him and became grateful for a conversation with my silent and moody child. “Yes, Son?”

“It’s almost spring, isn’t it?”

What an odd question. Before I could get the words out, “Yes, and I saw a robin yesterday,” he walked away.

At the time, I didn’t realize what was behind his question. Since Joshua’s death, I now understand the highest death rate for suicides occurs in spring. Not Christmas, as people are led to believe. The reason made sense to me when I read about it. The sunny days and the birds singing do not fit the suicidal person’s mood. They can’t imagine living another day in which the earth is breaking out in song and sun.

Father, I’m grateful You allowed us to keep Joshua for as long as we had him. He was almost never born. We almost never knew him. In Jesus’s name. Amen.
Reader Journal
~Your Mother Memories~
~Your Prayer of Praise~
~A Scripture of Encouragement~

Friday, April 24, 2015

God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~Month of April~The Devotion

photo by Jean Ann Williams

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
—Ecclesiastes 3:1
What I learned after Joshua died? The loss of my son became a physical reaction.

Each night as I lay in my bed and hoped for sleep, I squeezed my eyes shut. Tormented, I felt as though my heart and soul were being shredded. My love for Joshua intensified, but no love flowed back from son to mother. During the worst nights, I prayed for God to stop my beating heart.

My husband reluctantly returned to work, and life without Joshua’s presence left me lonely and hollow. I tried listening to music a few times, but the songs reminded me of Joshua. The songs were either his favorites or what he wished I would turn off. To fill the air with noise, I began talking out loud to myself.

Never in my life had I known such isolation. Raised the eldest sibling of a large family, I was surrounded by people. When my husband and I first married, and for many years after, he came home from work for lunch.

Now my husband worked in another city more than half an hour away. 

Days stretched in front of me as I wandered the house. My skin pricked as I walked past Joshua’s closed bedroom door in the hall. Sometimes I entered his room. 

I would stand there and blink—he was not there. I would search through Joshua’s possessions, hoping to find a note he may have left for his dad and me. Other times, I hurried down the hall and past his room, wishing Joshua’s bedroom would disappear.

I forgot the people I could have phoned for comfort during the worst sorrowful moments. Too deep in the pit of grief, it was God and me—alone, but not alone.

My Lord, my God, whom I want I cannot have, so I want nothing except to sleep. Please be merciful to me through the valley of the shadow. In Jesus’s holy name. Amen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~End of March~A Mother's Memories

Joshua age Two

When Joshua turned a year old, I left him and his siblings with their daddy on my grocery shopping days. No longer did I have to bend over a car seat and unbuckle Joshua and haul three children down the aisles for my bimonthly groceries.

As I pulled out of the driveway, my husband held Joshua up to the window and helped him wave good-bye. I enjoyed my break for that hour and a half from housework and three children. 

Hurrying through my errands, I imagined Joshua crying for me.

As I’d drive back into our driveway, Daddy and baby would peer through the dining room window. Joshua most often had his face scrunched while he cried. By the time I opened the front door, Joshua would met me in the hallway and leap into my arms.

I sat on the couch and nursed him, while everyone brought in the groceries and put them away. On the shopping days when he had sobbed the worst, I brushed his sweaty hair from his forehead. 

I kissed his tear-drenched cheeks.

After Joshua finished his milk, he crawled off my lap. It was time for him to inspect the grocery bags left on the kitchen floor.

Lord, how blessed You have made me to be a mother. I always enjoyed my moments away, and was always ready to get back to mothering. In Jesus’s name, I praise You. Amen.

Reader Journal
~Your Mother Memories~
~Your Prayer of Praise~
~A Scripture of Encouragement~

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~End of March~The Devotion

photo by Rachel Lynn Wilcoxin

“Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.”
—Psalm 69:1 KJV

One afternoon, I battled the need to weep and wail. In other words, a royal fit. I had awoke that morning, feeling out of sorts and unable to concentrate. 

I wandered the rooms of my home, feeling as though at any moment my skin would crawl off of me. My mind did an unusual thing that continued sporadically for months. It skipped like blackouts in between thoughts. I prayed for God to hold me together, for I surely would fall to pieces.

Then it happened. I fell to the floor, screaming, screaming, screaming. I begged God to numb my pain, a pain that felt physical. I kicked and flailed about on the carpet like a spoiled child until exhausted.

I got up.

Washed my face.

Brushed my disheveled hair.

I could do anything with God at my side.

Still, a shadow hovered within my soul, and my grief intensified over the months. Soon I understood another problem. I couldn’t feel my Lord’s love as I once had. 

That frightened me. I saw God’s love in action, though, be it in small ways. I trusted that He was listening.

Lord, do You hear me above my cries? Can we still have a relationship when all I do is mourn and cry? Help me, oh, Lord. In Jesus’s name, I beg. Amen.