WOW! Some dear lady I never spoke with before stumbled upon this on the net and commented on it, drawing my attention to it. I wrote this on 11/1/16. I had completely forgotten about it. As most know, I ended up writing a book published 2/15/17 and used this title from this article as the title for my book. I was so stunned to see this. Many blessings to Jenna Rose Rodriguez for finding this. (((HUGS))) …
Gifts from the Ashes……..TOPIC
I have often shared with other Bereaved Parents that along this journey
we learn things….deeply learn things….that most likely we otherwise
never would have learned if not for the devastating pain and anguish we
have encountered via the ‘experience’ of losing a child.
I refer to them as ‘gifts’ because they are things we learn to treasure.
A few months after my son had passed on, I was attending a support
meeting for mostly parents of children that had left this world, from
our perspective, far too early. I think most of us can agree that
whenever we heard of someone who had lost their child before we, too,
had entered this ‘new normal’, that we thought it was very sad, a
tragedy, etc. However, once we lost our own child, we realized that we
never truly comprehended the depth of such a loss.
It is truly a parent’s worst nightmare.
At this meeting, while grabbing a cup of coffee at the table along the
back of the room, I suddenly turned to the mom standing next to me and
blurted out without thought: ‘I wonder what else we don’t know’.
For the 1st time it struck me that my entire life was based on shallow
concepts. It gave new meaning for me to Ps. 42:7 “Deep calls to deep in
the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over
No matter how many textbooks we read, workshops we attend,
hours we spend on studies on the topic of the loss of a child…until
one has experienced such a great loss themselves, it is impossible to
comprehend the depth of this river of no return.
I have a camp in the woods along a great River. I bought this one year after my son’s
passing as a place for healing and retreat for myself and my surviving
children. I have spent many hours just sitting and staring at this
River. From it, I came to understand the concept of ‘forever changing,
yet forever constant’. I relate that to my journey of grief. Often I
have described this journey by saying that the moments of pain
eventually ‘hit’ farther apart, like labor pains in reverse. That those
‘moments’ become shorter in duration. However, I always add that the
intensity of those moments of pain remain constant.
Those not on this journey famously proclaim at some point that we should ‘move on’,
that we are living in the past, that we need to get on with our lives.
They see us as ‘stuck’ in the past. They mean well, I truly do believe
that. However, it truly is one of those things that they do not
know…and we can not ‘educate’ them on the topic of child loss. Even if
we have the energy to try, they will not ‘get it’. They can read
textbooks, go to workshops, spend hours studying the topic of child
loss…and still come out of it all knowing nothing. It is similar to
attending college for four years, then getting a job in the field of our
studies and having a reality check when we attempt to put into
practical experience all the knowledge we acquired. It is often a rude
awakening for many.
Obviously, such study is still of value and
at least offers us a tool to reference. But the degree in itself does
not become a reality until it is experientially applied.
Once realized, our hearts are humbled. Perhaps, for the 1st time in our
lives, we truly begin to understand the meaning of compassion for the
pain of others.
I do not know what it is like to raise a child that is physically and/or mentally challenged. I have met many such children when I decided to drive them to and from school after getting my CDL. They taught me so very much. I became protective of them and
even began referring to them as ‘my kids’. Their beauty, their tender
gentle innocence, their own personal understanding of their challenges,
their awareness of how other children perceived them and sadly mocked
them was so filled with love and lack of judgement toward others. Their
incredibly deep perception of their world vs. the world of the ‘average
healthy’ child was profound. Yet, though I spent many months, mornings,
afternoons, hours with these children, I still know I can honestly say I
know nothing of what it is like to be the parent of such a treasure. I
only know enough to ‘take my hat off’ to them with deep respect and
If not for my child’s passing, I would not have quit 2
other jobs, got my CDL, met these beauties, and learned what little I
was blessed to learn. That is one of those ‘gifts from the ashes’ I have
personally received and most likely never would have if not for the
death of my son.
There are many others ie; the loss of the fear
of death. Hebrews 2:15 states: “and release those who through fear of
death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” This is a good loss.
It is truly a gift. I am guessing that there are other ways in our Faith
to lose such a fear. However, what I know, is that I lost mine because
of my son’s death. Through his death, I was granted a deeper
appreciation of life. I always said ‘life is short’. Once my son died I
knew life is short. Believing and knowing can often be worlds apart.
Before losing my child, I could not come close to understanding what it
is like to go thru life as an amputee. Now that a piece of my heart has
been ripped out of the very center of my marrow, I have some idea.
Though, again, I would never presume that I totally ‘get it’. Yet, on
some new level, I can relate. This, too, is a gift from the ashes.
Yes, we have been forever changed. But it doesn’t necessarily have to
be for the worst. Time stopped when my son died. Yet the river keeps
flowing while that moment in time remains constant. It is my prayer from
the deepest parts of my being that all of us, by coming to a deeper
level of understanding the great sorrow our Lord experienced on our
behalf (for he truly was a man of sorrows…
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.), we will lay hold of those
‘gifts from the ashes’. As the coals cool, we can begin to reach into
the fire pit and find those great treasures.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the
Ashes’ available at:
Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/