They say there are five stages of grief; denial, depression, begging/borrowing/pleading, anger and acceptance. You don’t necessarily go through the stages in that order and you go through some more than once.
Anger and depression were the two longest, hardest stages but I suspect that’s because I’ve struggled with these two things most of my life.
Acceptance, I assume, is the goal, if goal is the appropriate word, in the grieving process though there is a sense in which you never completely accept it. It accepts you and you go about living your forever changed life with it. To this day I occasionally expect Shaun to walk through the front door of our house with that big smile on his face. Every time I see an older model Volvo with a dark haired driver I think it’s my Shaun and occasionally even wave at him.
I’m going to try over the next couple of weeks to discuss each of these stages but I must admit it’s very hard to do personally and harder still to do adequately.
My dear friend Amy says that I live in a bubble and by that I think she means that rather than accepting life’s circumstances for what they are and as they occur and experiencing/accepting the accompanying feelings, I try to read something spiritual, something positive into them. In short, I’m not always honest about my feelings but rather try to put a positive spin on everything.
Such was me with begging/bargaining/pleading. Almost immediately upon Shaun’s death I started asking God to not allow his death to be for nothing. I wanted something good to occur because of it.
To that end, about a month after Shaun died, I volunteered to speak at a men’s recovery meeting. It was really more of a question/answer session where we talked about Shaun’s life and death. They were surprised that I could speak publicly about Shaun’s death so soon after it and I was honest with the group that I was there for purely selfish reasons and wanted something good to come out of It. I mainly answered their questions about Shaun’s life and death.
Over and over I urged them, challenged them, stressed to them that one wrong decision could cost them their lives. I begged them to carefully consider each and every decision they had to make and understand that there was a war going on and their very lives were at stake.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a gentleman came up to me and confessed that he was a heroin addict and before that meeting had thought seriously about doing heroin one more time. He indicated that after hearing Shaun’s story, he was not going to.
Naturally, I felt better about things after talking to this gentleman who has since become a good friend and seeing that God does make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Actually, through Shaun’s death, the three of us, my wife, Shaun’s fiancé and myself, have become very active in the addiction ministries in our city. I believe that God does work all things together for good and this was a good example of that.
However, looking back, I also see that rather than grieving and being honest about how I felt, I was really playing into Satan’s hand. Satan is the master liar and if he can get us to make decisions on the basis of a lie, then he’s won that battle. Yes, God does work all things together for good but it’s God that does it and not me, yet I was the one trying to work Shaun’s death for something good rather than being honest with and facing up to my feelings and grieving. I wanted to prove to myself that I was a good parent and Shaun’s death wasn’t because of something I did wrong, but so that something good would come out of it.
I continue to be amazed at God’s incredible patience with me and blessing me in spite of myself. He didn’t beat me up with my self-absorption but allowed me to see that He is sovereign, He can use Shaun’s death for good and allow me to see the truth about my decisions/actions and all at the absolute right time.
Thank you God for loving me.