God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey

Losing a child is not like . . .


A daughter or son dying is NOT similar to:

. . .  a child leaving for college.

. . . a child running away.

. . . a child moving far away.

. . . a parent’s failing health.

. . . a parent or spouse dying.

. . . a spouse cheating.

. . . a marriage ending.

. . . a severe medical diagnosis.

. . . a dog, cat or other pet dying.

. . . a friendship or job ending.

These life events are all hurtful, tragic, sad and life-altering.

Yet, a child dying is NOTHING like any of these losses.

While each of them is heartbreaking, there is NOTHING similar to standing at a gravesite and watching your child lowered into the ground.

Many people cannot comprehend the magnitude of losing a child. The reality is that unless you have walked this path, you will never understand. And that’s ok. We bereaved parents are glad that you can’t understand it. We wouldn’t wish losing a child on anyone.

I have a metaphor that may shed some light: Child loss is similar to living within feet of a bottomless abyss.

I’ve had several of these losses listed above. For me, these endings felt similar to jumping off a high dive into the deep end of a pool. It was heart-pounding scary, anxiety producing and surreal. Yet, I swam to where my toes could touch the bottom. The secure poolside was within sight and strokes away.

Losing my daughter was/is similar to jumping off a boat into the middle of the ocean. I come up for air and the boat speeds away. There is neither a bottom to touch or sides to swim to. The body of water is massive. To not be pulled under, I have to either tread water, float or swim.  I have “helps” such as a life vest, arm floaties or fins. There’s no sense of “a break is coming.” To keep going, my muscles must strengthen. I cannot pretend that I’m in a pool, but I’m facing a dark, subterranean ocean.

So you can see how, similar to a jellyfish sting, hearing “I know how you feel because  . . . ” creates hurt. Unintentionally, this statement doesn’t acknowledge the oceanic depth of our pain.

All this said, please stay the course with grieving parents. Losing a child is not contagious. If you spend time with us, a dark tidal wave will not consume you. Be the life preserver that uplifts your friend – don’t be the boat that pulls away.

Keep in mind that a bereaved parent teaches us about resilience, strength, endurance, devotion, compassion and eternal love. I’m grateful for the grieving parents who have modeled these strengths for me.

Blog_Grief is not like_August 2019

Photo:  Pixabay

As a person of faith, I believe that my daughter Leah and I will spend eternity together. This perspective doesn’t mean that I am free of sadness here and now. After 5 years, I still ache for her presence. I expect to feel the same after 10 or 20 years. The grief waters won’t ever drain because my love for her is everlasting.

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Author: Marie E Guthrie

What can I say about myself? My heart beats fast for my family, friends and calling. Professionally, I have a passion for helping people and organizations tell their stories in a compelling way and I have been doing this fun work my whole career. Never once bored in the marketing and communications profession. Presently, I am providing consulting services to corporate and nonprofit organizations. For seven years, I was the Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Awana. I am dedicated to learning how to better love my family members and friends. I am married to a very special man, Mark. I have two children. Grant in his college years - a treasure. My beautiful daughter Leah is now in heaven. Her 14 month battle with cancer has taken me down a road that I never thought I'd go, but I would do it all again. This blog is dedicated to my brave and faithful daughter. At a young age, I was drawn to the sacrificial love I learned about as I was taught about Christ. My heart since age eight was transformed from total selfishness to a heart that desired to love God and others. This love has driven who I am - far from perfect, but dedicated to the One who loves me more than any human ever could. I have questions for God about the story of my life; I wrestle with Him about losing Leah, but He and I go deep. Still feel His arms around me. We are taking it day by day.

243 thoughts on “Losing a child is not like . . .

  1. I would add that all other deaths are universal. Everyone will lay a parent to rest or a sibling or friend and definitely grandparents. But child loss is not experienced by the majority of people. That isolates us and brings a true sense of loneliness. Because of this fact the other deaths are easier to cope with eventually because subconsciously we know they are natural and they don’t shock or traumatize us as much. Child loss is also an out of order death. Because our children are supposed to be here every day of our life, without end, we loose a piece of them every day that we wake up. A whole lifetime of memories never made and we loose the one who should be by our side when we breath our last breath.

    • Very well said Ali. You are so correct. It is an out of order death and experience. Yes, yes, yes. I am so sorry for your pain and loss. Thank you for sharing these words today.

    • Yes, a loss of a child is not compared to anything else. I lost my husband 5 years ago to God and I hope someday to join him in Paradise until the second coming. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. It’s separated me and some of my friends. Then I had breast cancer and treatments for over 1 year. That separated me from some of my friends also. It is sad when friends use an excuse not to be able to support you during such a difficult time because they can’t handle it! God bless you that you have strength to deal with your loss. God bless anyone to loses a loved one I don’t care in what order either. It sucks.

      • Deborah. I am so sorry for your hardship and the loss of your precious husband. It is so painful. All losses are unique in their own way. I too have had a change is some friendships. Some people have the emotional and spiritual ability/strength/capacity to walk alongside hurting people. Others don’t. We need to move on and find the people who want to walk the difficult path with us. God bless you too. Sending love.

      • If you’re grieving separates you from ‘friends’, they weren’t friends to begin with, leave them out of your life, sending peace
        and love

    • Thank you Ali. Your words are right on. It is true. Other deaths are universal. I’ve often thought how, in the past, death of children was much more common and more mothers had this life experience in common. Today, not so much. You are right. The natural order is that parents do NOT outlive children. I think that’s the reason people today are so uncomfortable around bereaved parents. They aren’t quite sure how to deal with us. Appreciate your sensitive insight. Blessings to you.

      • I can’t talk about it anymore. I just want to keep it to myself now.. because now… My husband daddy died I can barely breathe. I need to belong some where I just don’t want to talk anymore

    • I agree and for someone to say be happy you have 3 other children that need you only exemplifies the one that needed you most died in an motorcycle accident and nothing you could do changed that. To say he had free will doesn’t help or if he wouldn’t have just bought his new bike 5 days before his death doesn’t feel like a good reason for my son to die.

      • The heart ache is never ending. I too also like my 17yo son he was on his bike and hit head on by a drunk driver. My boy is my world and people has sais its been two years and your still crying. I’ll cry till the day I am reunited with him. Prayers this world is so cruel

    • I feel this everyday

  2. r life……but that’s all on you, God gave us freedom of choice, I choose to be happy and thankful everyday because my family had a great time living and laughing together while they were here. I wouldn’t ask for more than that, it was plenty to leave me contented until I join them, and they are in the care of our lord and his love is so incredibly strong yet comforting, we don’t even come close so she is being loved more than you or me are even capable of loving. God bless you and yours, I’m sorry for our losses, but glad I am making the most of mine and choosing happiness over misery. I believe my daughter and her mother are happy with my beliefs and my ability to continue enjoying this one and only life, besides I’ll be there in the blink of an eye!! 🙏

    • It does give me comfort knowing that my daughter is with her heavenly Father – and loved more deeply than I ever could. Everyone one grieves differently. Glad you are “choosing happy.” I’d caution you to think people purposefully chose sadness or misery. Every loss is different and painful in its own way. As a Christian, I know I’ll be with my girl again. But I’ll always have a sadness in my soul losing her at such a young age to such a tragic death. My faith is the only thing that keeps me going. Even Jesus cried at Lazarus’ death. He grieved and died for the sins of the world. And He knew the ending. So emotion comes into grief for many people. It’s great that you live in faith and the knowledge of forever. Blessings to you.

      • Definitely not a choice. If it were, I believe we could then choose when and where to grieve. Which of course we cannot. I can be fine and see something my Russell would eat or something he’d look great wearing. I may smile and/or cry, but either way I have a physical reaction inside, possibly panic and can’t always catch my breath! Thank you for clarifying this.

  3. Lost my only child (daughter) 7 years ago.
    This is a great way to explain grief.
    Thank you….

  4. My beautiful Son was murdered on 10/14/2019 in a senseless act of violence. He was 22. The loss of my Son has been devastating and painful. And, although I also choose to move forward in gratitude for him having chosen me as his vessel into this world and live with the happy memories we shared, it does not eliminate the sadness and misery I experience daily. For me, grief includes all forms of emotions, the good , the bad and the ugly. To move forward, I must feel them all. All I know is, life will never be the same.

    • So deeply sorry Stephy for losing your son so young – and in such a tragic way. Very painful and heartbreaking. I agree, grief takes many forms. Yes, life will never be the same. This statement is very true. Sending you caring thoughts . . .

  5. I have also had the death of my son compared to other losses (even to the loss of a beloved pet cat…) I used to take offense to these comparisons. Now, 11 months into this painful journey, I react differently. I now know what it means to ‘get it’. I have always had a strong sense of compassion and often sympathized with people undergoing the loss of a child; now I empathize with them. Now I ‘get it’. I know the deep sadness that only a mother who’s child has been violently and instantly removed from her life knows. And I recognize that I did not truly understand until that loss occurred. Now when I hear someone try to relate to me by comparing their loss I forgive them and thank God that at least someone is TRYING to connect with me. They may not have all the skills and tools to do so completely (and I am thankful when they do not… I would not wish this horror on anyone) but they are grabbing the tools they have and trying to connect. Is the death of their pet cat the same grief that I feel for the loss of my 24 year old soldier- a man whom I home-educated and spent every day, ALL day with for the first 14 years of his life with; who was the golden center of a now 30 year marriage and 3 brothers who scrambled to be closest to him because his personality was infectious and his kindness genuine? No, but the the death of their cat may be the only tool in their box that they can even grasp the pain of a loss. And so many people avoid even trying to connect. So I do not participate in comparing my loss to those of others. I am just thankful that they even try to understand.

  6. This story really hit hard!! You try to compare what it’s like, but words can never come out, how you want them to!!! I’ve been told I couldn’t imagine, or I’m sorry so many times since Aug 18, i hear it when no one is around 😔 My 17 year old son was killed by a drunk wrong way driver, Aug 17, 2019 💔 I want so bad to explain how I feel, but until they know what I’m going through, they will never understand 😔

  7. It’s been five years since I lost my son Tommy, and I still wake up with that empty feeling in my gut and the tears still come. My other adult children have moved to other parts of the US so I have really struggled from missing my family. I have been a mom pretty much all of my life and to not have any of them around me hurts deeply. After Tommy passed, I found myself very stuck. Friends who I had known for 20+ years stopped calling. Only a few would come to visit and that was a rare occasion. Feeling so alone made the mourning even harder to take. Even my brothers and sisters did not bother to reach out to me. My son got caught up in the heroin epidemic so for about five years he had my complete attention. I won’t go into the details of having to live thru all of that, but I will say that it was extremely difficult and heart-wrenching. My heart is forever broken but I am doing my best to move forward. I found my passion a few years ago and earned my Herbalist Certification last year. I am now a business owner and have opened my own store. I have been a single mom for many years so taking this kind of step is brand new for me, but I am going for it. Say a prayer for me please? I love your story and it moved me and echoes what I feel too. My new store is httpsd://theherbjoint.com I share our story with the world there. Thank you again and God bless.

  8. Thank you for sharing this.
    It has been almost 10-1/2 years since God called my precious “baby” boy home to Him. He was 15-1/2 and had gotten his motorcycle permit 28 days prior. A pickup came around a curve on the wrong side of the road and they hit head on. God was with my son that day as I can point to many blessings in the midst of the tragedy and we had some time with him before he moved to heaven. I know he is happy, healthy and whole now and that does bring comfort. But sometimes I still cry my eyes out wanting to hear his voice, feel his hug, see his beautiful blue eyes, red hair and smile that lit up the room.
    Five years or so ago, one of his ”step”-brothers compared my son’s death to the divorce of his parents. That didn’t go over well with me. There is no comparison. Even the fact that this son “disconnected” himself from us is no comparison. It is a death of sorts but if God allows, this relationship can be mended. Nothing will bring my son back from the grave.
    Time makes it more bearable but I will never heal. I’ve just learned to “deal”. I now have an almost 4 year old granddaughter who has his middle name and looks so much like him and makes me laugh like he did. I take some comfort in this as well.
    I know I have had a choice since his passing of how to live my life. I can either cut myself off from family, friends and activities I enjoy. Or, I can choose to live my life they way Jesus and my son would want me to. I choose the latter.

  9. Marie, your post is excellent and is right on point when it’s comes to the sorrow felt my parents who lose a child. My wife and I lost our youngest child (age 20) 3 years and 9 months ago. He was struck and killed in front of our home by a speeding vehicle who was not observing the move over law. Our oldest child (23 at the time) witnessed the incident and losing his brother. Life as it goes on will never get better, just different.

  10. Everything you write is true and well said. Our son Kevin passed eleven years ago. I do not see my grief ending until we meet again.

  11. I lost a daughter tragicly. Life changed forever. I live my life thinking now I have an angel. And she protects me. Thank you for this article. This time of year is so hard. To all of you who’s lost a child, you are not alone in your pain and suffering. Time will lessen your pain. Now u have an angel that will NEVER leave your side. Bless you all.

  12. I lost my 15 year old son 3 months ago. He had a massive stroke before we even could figure out he had a malformation in his brain, AVM. So much of what’s written here resonates with me, including comments of other grieving parents. It’s a small comfort, but only the small things reach me now. Big is overwhelming. I do wake up every day thinking right away-yes, it’s real, he’s gone. I have a senior in high school and a 7th grader too, and I’m a single mom. It’s been beautiful how other parents who’ve lost children came out of the woodwork to speak with me. One man I’ve never met was at my sons wake, because he goes anywhere he hears about when it’s a child, just for the parents to know they’re not alone. Some of my closest friends before are now the ones I can’t stand to be around. They don’t want me to become a recluse and think the answer is to go have fun. Nothings fun now-it’s too soon! And other friends who I hadn’t seen much of before are suddenly showing the most amazing empathy and love. I do think it’s possible. My chest is hollow since my heart was ripped out but I get thru each day with smiles to cover my pain, hoping someday I can be happier. It helps immensely to see it’s possible thru example. Nobody wants to join this club, but it helps that there is one. Thanks for the article and for the comments from other grieving parents. It’s validating.

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