through His Word
The unexplainable happened. My son was no longer getting the oxygen he needed to live.
In 1999, we had a child born with spina bifida and multiple medical problems. His name was Blake. We had around-the-clock home health care. Blake had a tracheostomy, a surgically created hole into the windpipe, and was on a ventilator 24 hours a day. He was doing well and had not been in the hospital for a year.
On that day, Blake’s trach tube came out and the nurse couldn’t get it back in. Emergency medical services rushed to the house and were able to reattach it. Because of the lack of oxygen for several minutes, Blake was left brain dead.
Even though he was breathing again with the help of the ventilator, his brain was gone. We took him off life support just before his third birthday. I ask many questions about what happened that day, but never felt like all were answered.
Several years after his death, I began having panic attacks. Even when not having an attack, my daily journey was gloomy and I couldn’t figure out why. I just couldn’t knock the blues.
One day, I was listening to a talk show on the radio while driving in Texas. They were talking about the grieving process.What they said was true in my life. I like to share this with people who have lost a family member. Not only are there stages of grief, there are years of grief:
- The first year, you’re in shock.
- The second year, you put the loved one’s belongings away or get rid of items.
- The third year, you try to get your life back in order with work and routines. You try to figure out what the new normal looks like.
- The fourth and fifth year, you actually grieve. You may experience moments of out-of-control crying or anger.
The fourth and fifth years were the hardest for me.
In 2005, it was time to see a counselor. I was at a weak place in my life, but I discovered that it takes a brave person to get counseling.
I went for counseling sessions for several months. During that time the counselor began to unwrap the thoughts racing around my brain about our son’s life and death.
I never had anger toward the nurse taking care of our son the day of the trach incident. One day the counselor decided it was time to have a conversation about my feelings toward the nurse. She wanted me to pretend the nurse was sitting in the room and make a statement to her about the accident. When I began speaking, the only thing that would come out of my mouth was a question. “How long was the trach out?” or “What was going on at the time the trach came out?”
The counselor stopped me and said, “You are asking questions. I want you to make a statement.” She said, “until you quit asking questions about what happened that day, you’ll never get over the panic attacks.”
She suggested I try to write my thoughts instead of saying them. I sat there and tried to write. It seemed like an hour went by. It was only five minutes.
I wrote, “My husband and I always gave our children 100% of our care and love. I felt like Blake had not been taken care of 100%. Whatever happened that day is between the nurse, Blake, and God.” I began to weep uncontrollably. It was one of those ugly crying moments when you don’t want anyone to see you. All my feelings where laying on the floor of the counselor’s office at that moment. The counselor shed tears with me. She felt my pain.
She asked me to go home and finish writing to see if any other feelings or questions came to the surface. As we prayed together and embraced, we knew we had made a huge step in my grieving process.
After leaving her office, I went to the bathroom to try to regain my composure, but the crying continued. I was in an office building, and all I could think about was getting out of there and to my car. I didn’t want anyone to see me in my current state of sadness. When I arrived at my car, I decided to write the rest of my thoughts in my notebook. I didn’t want to ever feel this upset again.
A huge sigh of relief came over my being. The questions were over. I didn’t have to ask them anymore. I learned that asking questions wasn’t making my life better. They were holding me back.
What I’ve carried with me all these years: it is okay to ask questions. We don’t want the questions to consume our lives.
Did you know that Jesus asked questions? He didn’t ask questions to learn; He asked to help others understand. Every year, Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When returning home, His parents began anxiously questioning where Jesus was. Luke 2:45-47 (NIV) says, “When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
Through counseling, I learned it’s okay not to know everything. It won’t change what happened. Jesus has all the answers about what happened to Blake. He is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)—the answer to all the trials we face. That is all that matters!
© Copyright 2016 by Adria Wilkins
Adria Wilkins lives in Woodbridge, VA with her husband, Erik, and children Katie and Anthony. She is a speaker, author, and owner of 10 Key Pro. She is working on writing a book called Joy Box Stories—a collection of bite-sized stories pointing to one conclusion: joy can be found in any situation. After suffering the unthinkable—the death of three-year-old Blake—she found that Jesus sustains and even surprises His followers with joy.
Connect with Adria on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/joyboxstories.
joy, suffering, adversity, hope, grief, the grieving process, Adria Wilkins, Joy Box Stories