Missing Beckham – A Father’s Story of Loss and Healing

30 Jan

Losing a child is the single most difficult emotional, spiritual, and physical journey of my life.  In the immediate days and week following the stillbirth of Beckham, I felt the extreme emotions of anguish and peace, despair and hope, love and hate, doubt and trust.  The pendulum of emotions feels like being stuck in the ocean’s rough surf.  You’re struggling to catch your next breath and to clear your stinging eyes before the next wave forces you under. 

I found it difficult to be alone (at times feeling as if I would suffocate).  I could not focus on work (I had to take an extended break).  I tried to distract myself with entertainment, but that only brought short-lived relief.  I wanted to disengage from the rhythms of life (friends, church, work, etc.) but forced myself to reengage.  My entire being was consumed by my burden of grief.

My grief came from being unable to raise my son.  I will never get to change his diapers, see him take his first steps, hear him speak his first words, watch him graduate from school, get married, have kids, or tell him about Jesus and how much God loves him.

I will remember Beckham every day of my life for the rest of my life.  I will always think about what he would be doing if he were here with us.  I will get through my grief, but I will never get over my son.  Some have compared it to having a limb of your body amputated

…although you heal, you are never the same again.

Our community surrounded us with love during our time of loss.   Helping with the practical needs of the family like food, house-cleaning, and childcare allowed us time to grieve.  My sister gave us a beautiful evergreen scented candle.  This gift led us to plant an evergreen tree in our backyard to celebrate his due date.

During this time, I read Is God to Blame?  by Greg Boyd.  He writes that the death of a child is a “mystery about creation and not a mystery about God’s character.”  In other words, don’t blame God and let go of the WHY question.  You don’t have to confuse the hurt with the Healer.  He loves you, loves your child, and knows what you’re feeling.  Things won’t always go the way that we think they should, but it is true that God will be there with us every step of the way.

Trust in God’s goodness and remember that the Day is coming when all things will be made new.

cross and treeSensing God’s gracious touches at every point in my grief helped me in my journey.  I have felt God’s presence at every step.  He hears every note of my lament and graciously met my pain in ways that heal me.

On December 26, 2011 at 4 AM, as I stood sobbing in the ER, I realized the truth that God knows what it is like to lose a Son.  I spoke it out loud as I stood huddled in the arms of the hospital chaplain.  I say it again in the moments when I feel the darkness overwhelming me.  For the darkness cannot overcome the truth of the light (John 1:6).

I will get through the experience of grief, but I will never get over my son!  I will think of him EVERYDAY of my life till I get to meet him in heaven.  The theme of my second year since Beckham’s stillbirth has been to ARISE.  I sense God showing me that I can arise from my grief and dare to hope that life will be beautiful again.

In my journey, a year was just the beginning.  In order to fully embrace the grief process, you must be patient with yourself.  Only you know how long and in what ways you need to grieve to heal and find that new normal.

For those of you who are in the midst of your own journey.  Please know that you will heal.  And although you won’t be the same person, you will find a new normal.

Keep your head up as much as possible, for even in the midst of pain there are moments of hope, comfort, peace.

Written by Dr. G. David Boyd and Bret Deneson.

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