Editors’ note: It’s sometimes called an Odyssey. It’s sometimes called a gift. It’s often called everything in-between, but when we look at life, it feels like a quest. That’s why we’re giving all of April to the Life Quest(ions) that people have always wanted the answers to. Here’s what we did: We asked hundreds of people what quest and question they’ve never been shown or given the answer to even though it’s something they’ve always wanted to pursue. Then, we pursue it and provide the answers! Next up, we’re looking at greed and how to live without it.
Our blog is a support system for grieving Christians seeking comfort from trained clinical psychologists, as well as fellow peers sharing their grief journey
Sarah24: Posted August 20, 2021, at 3:19 pm
Reading the rest of your stories has been incredibly therapeutic for me. When my husband and I lost our only son Micheal to an aggressive form of Osteosarcoma in 2018, the world seemed incredibly dark. Waking up each day, I felt no purpose, I could not comprehend why this happened to us. One day Micheal started complaining about pain in his knee, and the next thing we knew, I was in the oncologist’s office being told that pain was a tumor. The room went fuzzy, all I could hear was deafening throbbing in my head. At first, the tumor was confined to his knee, and as terrifying as it was, all signs were pointing to Micheal’s recovery. He responded well to chemotherapy, and I felt like God was hearing us and hearing our prayers. I grew up going to church every Sunday, just like my husband, we had a church wedding but as life got busy we went less and less. That was until Micheal got sick. When we first heard his prognosis, I needed God’s comfort and support. I sat in the hospital’s chapel for 5 hours, and for the two years Micheal suffered, all I could do is pray. After New Year’s in 2018 however, things took a turn for the worst. Our pediatric oncologist told us that cancer had spread to Micheal’s lymph notes. From that point his health decreased rapidly, watching my son go through that pain was devastating for my husband and me. I prayed to God, pleaded for him to take anything but my son. But it was not enough. I didn’t leave my bed for days, couldn’t even bear to open my eyes to a world without Micheal. I was angry with God, he couldn’t have been the God I knew if he took away my son. What was left to pray for? To believe in?
A few months after the funeral, my husband suggested we try a group counseling group he had seen a flyer posted for at our church. The loss of Micheal was so fresh, and I didn’t think I was strong enough to hear about other people’s losses, nonetheless discuss my own. But I knew it was important to my husband, so I went along, and I am so thankful that I did. Hearing others express their similar feelings, emptiness, loneliness, and wavering faith in God was more comforting than I ever could’ve imagined. It was through these people, that I found friends and a support system I could count on. We all were asking the same questions, “Why did God take away our loved one?” “What did our families do to deserve this pain?” It took time but I did realize that God didn’t take away my son to punish me, God would never do that. I don’t know why we lost our son, but what I do know is that I am thankful to have met my friends from my support group, and even more grateful that when my faith in God wavered his faith never wavered in me. I will never be over the loss of Micheal, but through the support of individuals who suffered as I did, I found that things do get better. The Micheal Peterson Foundation, founded in Micheal’s name has raised over 100,00 dollars to aid children suffering from Osteosarcoma. I am honored that God has given me the strength to preserve through this tragedy, with the money raised from The Micheal Peterson Foundation and as the foundation launches research into Osteosarcoma and effective treatment methods we will be able to help so many other families. I know Micheal would be proud of my husband and me, the good that we have managed to do. I am so thankful for the support I have found in God, persevere to help others, wake up every morning, and live my life the way I know Micheal would have lived his.
DRStevenPhilips: Replied to Sarah24’s post
Hi Sarah, I am Dr. Philips, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in grief and loss counseling, and I am a practicing Christian. First, I would like to offer my condolences for your family’s loss. I would love to donate to the Micheal Peterson Foundation to honor all the amazing work you’re both doing. The raw and personal feelings you shared in this emulate the range of emotions surrounding grief and the loss of a loved one. A sudden distrust in faith is something that many of my clients have struggled with, but I am glad that you ended up finding comfort through your church and that community. In fact, research regarding personal loss and religion has illustrated that those who had positive appraisals towards religion and God’s power typically have experienced less personal distress, and developed positive outcomes after said loss. Furthermore, there is a link between personal loss and “making meaning” which this study explores. I see this exhibited in all you have done to combat Osteosarcoma with the foundation, and through the support, you have provided to others within your church group. I have linked this article down below if you and would like to take a look, again I am incredibly proud of all you and your husband have accomplished in the face of this adversity, and I know that Micheal would be too.
Making Meaning from Personal Loss: Religious, Benefit Finding, and Goal-Oriented Attributions.” ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232467362_Making_Meaning_from_Personal_Loss_Religious_Benefit_Finding_and_Goal-oriented_Attributions.
GregS: Replied to Sarah24’s post
Hello, Sarah, I would like to say how inspiring I found your post. When my wife died in a sudden accident caused by a drunk driver, I too was searching for reasoning. Society, and more specifically my Christian upbringing had always taught me that everything happens for a reason. I was taught that God has a plan for everything and that I should have to put my faith in that all the things I experienced, both good and bad were all a part of the life that God had decided for me. It was difficult for me to picture, that the death of my beautiful wife was part of God’s plan. However, what was even more difficult to grasp was that all signs pointed to this being a random event. Elizabeth had just run out to buy toilet paper, and the driver ran a red light, as she just happened to be at the crosswalk. I refuse to accept that my wife’s life could be decreased to poor timing, that the world would go on like nothing ever happened. My life feels so empty without Elizabeth by my side, yet I believe this was God’s plan for her, Elizabeth had experienced the life God wanted for her, and this was simply her time.
DRStevenPhilips: Replied to Greg’s post
Greg, thank you for sharing your experience. I am deeply sorry for your loss. To be able to put your faith in God’s plan for Elizabeth takes tremendous strength and I am sure she is watching down on you proudly. You are correct Greg, the idea of randomness is incredibly hard for us to grasp as humans. I suggest that you read Ralph Lewis’s book The Drunkard’s Walk in which Lewis explores how it is human nature to reject the unknown, as our brains have evolved to determine cause and effect and seek out patterns. Rejecting the random can be therapeutic, as we look to make meaning in our daily lives and the “random” is something that we cannot understand. We can understand how important Elizabeth’s life was and how you can go on and honor her every day.