Words by Stephen Aycock | Image by Ryan McGill
After my son died, I don’t remember leaving the hospital. I don’t remember going home. But I do remember that on the worst day of my life, I found myself totally alone.
Losing a child is mentally devastating. The wave upon wave of emotion that emanates from you is more than most people can imagine, therefore it’s difficult for them to know how to support you. It’s like standing too close to a roaring fire on a freezing winter day; they want to be there, but the heat is too great for them to stand, so they are forced to back up.
I remember walking through my house one day shortly after Ryan’s death. I was by myself in every sense. I could hear everything with a heightened awareness and sensitivity that only pain and hopelessness can bring out. I could hear the wind whistling between the cracks of the windowpane and feel the floor creaking under my feet as my steps echoed off the wall. I could hear each tick of the clock, reminding me that the next second would be just as unbearable as the last, yet it slowly ticked on without a care. I felt like I was stuck in an Edgar Allen Poe poem and wondered if I could actually go mad from losing my child.
I soon found myself on my knees in prayer, as I had been so many times since his death. I did not ask God for answers. I did not blame Him for my loss, I did not challenge Him or question His existence. I only asked for peace; for Him to please stop this pain if only for a moment. Like a drowning man gasping for air, I just needed to breathe for a second. No prayer is heard with greater clarity than one given in desperation. And on that floor, on one of the worst days of my life, I received my peace. For a short time, the clock grew still, the wind ceased to moan, and I didn’t notice the floor creaking. The sounds of my heart broke the silence as it let loose every tear held inside.
It wasn’t long before I heard a knock at the door, and my cousins, Brenda and Rick, came to see me. We chatted for a while, and in our conversation, Rick told me it was okay to be mad at God.
I told him I wasn’t mad at God and began explaining why. “Picture your best friend,” I said. “He sits in the corner of the room with his hands folded; he watches you pace, cry, and sit in your child’s room for hours on end, but he says nothing. He knows his words would not ease your pain, but his presence is soothing, you feel his warmth in your heart, you know he understands, and he grieves with you”.
People mean well, but they would never choose to experience what you are forced to endure. In our grief, we sometimes expect more from those who cannot possibly understand. In those moments, where can we turn but to the Lord?
In our moments of desperation, if we can manage to calm our physical selves just long enough to douse the feverish heat that plagues us, we can begin to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit. It is at that moment that we start to heal. We do not have to seek Him out; we simply must silence the roar of the world around us. Seek solace in the ones you love, but find healing in the One we worship.
Just think, if He knows the number of hairs on our heads, how much more profoundly does He know our hearts?