Our family is approaching the 6th anniversary of Sean James Stanton’s death. I remember reading a blog written by another mom who lost their daughter, 6 years after she lost her. She said it was still hard, still traumatic for their family. I concur with her. It is still hard, still traumatic.
When it gets close to this anniversary, I find myself crying. Sometimes, something triggers the crying—a book, a movie, driving down the road, a thought. It could be anything, it could be nothing.
One of the books about grief that we read, used an illustration of waves of grief coming over you. Sometimes they are so big and powerful, they knock you down, and you wonder if you are going to drown in that wave. I miss Sean so much sometimes, it hurts, and hurts and hurts. Indescribable pain. The worst pain I have ever experienced.
That pain became all encompassing. It defined life for a while. But God throws lifelines. One of those lifelines was a couple who met with Rich and I for more than a year on an almost weekly basis. They gave us books to read and listened to our anguish. They showed us God’s grace and faithfulness.
Other lifelines were longtime friends who walked with us, taking our children on excursions, and just being our friends. Also, my family, especially my mom and my aunt (who had experienced great loss in her lifetime), showed up frequently to help with thank you notes and to be with us. Our sweet neighbor organized meals for us for the first few months after Sean’s death. Wonderful friends and strangers brought us meals. There are so many people who reached out to us, to help us through this time.
One of our most significant lifelines were our children. They needed us. We found purpose in meeting their needs. As we showed love to our children, we saw God’s love for us. As we cared for our children, we saw God’s caring for us. In the midst of our weakness, we saw God’s strength. I think it is significant that helping others, in particular our children, was a key component to returning to the land of the living.
The pain is still there; the grief is still there. I don’t expect it to be gone. There is no going back to life the way it used to be. Really, there never is going back for any of us, there is only going on.
We put these verses on Sean’s grave site as they represent his life on earth, and his faith. Galatians 2:20, 21: “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So, I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”
I wish you could have met Sean, if you have not met him. If you have met him, could you leave a comment about what he was like to you, for those who have not met him.
This is my comment: “Sean was filled with life. He radiated joy. A mom told me that the week before Sean died, her special needs son ran up to Sean and gave him a hug. Sean hugged him back and asked him how he was doing. Sean was such a cool kid, and Sean was kind. So many friends and family have told us that they could count on Sean to be kind to their children. Sean truly lived out Galatians 2:20,21!
I don’t know if there is any encouragement in reading about the loss of a child, except this—to remember that each child is a gift from God and to encourage you to love— like there is no tomorrow.