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Surviving Sorrow

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
August 1, 2020 8:03 am

Surviving Sorrow

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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August 1, 2020 8:03 am

​Kim Erickson's life changed forever on the day her three-year-old son died. On a best-of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, Kim shows the step-by-step process she took to not only survive that ordeal, but begin to live again. Get practical and biblical help if you're going through a deep loss—or learn how to help someone else. Don't miss the next Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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The tragic death of her three year old son changed Kim Eriksson's life forever.

The truth is you can put one foot in front of the other. One step at a time. You can live through this and live joyfully eventually like it. You can do it.

Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . If you're going through a season of loss, don't miss the conversation today with author and teacher Kim Erichson. Her latest book is our featured resource at Five Love Languages. Dot com is titled Surviving Sorrow.

The subtitle is A Mother's Guide to Living with Loss. And you're listening to a summer. Best of conversation, Gary. It's not an easy topic, but it's important.

Well, it is, Chris. I think anyone who has a circle of friends probably has someone who has lost a family member, particularly a child. And so even though it's a difficult topic, I think it's a much needed topic.

Let me reintroduce Kim Erickson. She's been with us before. She has a writing and teaching ministry to help other women. She talked about his last words, what Jesus taught and prayed in his final hours. And we heard some of her personal story in that program. She's an attorney and practices immigration law. She lives in Florida now with her husband, Devon, and son Ethan.

A featured resource is Surviving Sorrow, A Mother's Guide to Living with Law. You can find out more at five love languages dot com. Well, Kim, welcome back to Building Relationships.

Thank you for having me again. This is great.

You've talked about your son Austin with us last time, but for those who don't know that story. Can you share some of that journey with us? Sure.

Hi. You know, I was in a place in my life where I didn't I didn't have God as part of my life at all. I thought I was cruising along pretty well. I had my career, my family, my house, my kids. And. But in April of 2008, Austin was diagnosed with strep throat. We took him back to the doctor the next day and the next day. And on Friday of that, that week, I got the call that no parent wants to get. You know that the ambulance is at our house often. And we lost Austin that Friday. He did not wake up out of his bed and he passed away due to complications with strep throat.

Wow. Oh, was he?

He was three years old and 10 days. He did get to have his three year old birthday party and he enjoyed that. But, yeah, just 10 days later.

Well, now, you mentioned that you are not a Christian at that time. How did his death affect you? And in terms of turn drawing you to God or turn you from God. How did you respond to that?

Sure. That's a unique moment. And I just you know, now that I've been a Christian for more than a decade now, I feel like I understand a little better what happened to me. But in that moment when I got that phone call and I'm I'm just, you know, terrified and panicked as any parent would be. And I'm racing from my my office to the hospital, and it's about a 30 minute drive. And and, you know, I know folks out there will many of them can relate to this.

I just had a moment and something washed over me. And I I can't describe it to this day. I don't have words for it. But it was beautiful. It was so wonderful. All of a sudden, I felt amazing. I felt wonderful. And so I was like, now I can only describe it as I feel like God put the put his hand on my head kind of thing.

And I don't know, you know, how to describe it. But I did know in that moment, even though I had been rejecting God and not, you know, turning towards him my whole life, practically just really rebellious and not believing, you know, in that moment. All of a sudden, I knew I haven't was real. Heaven was true. And it was amazing. And I knew that Austin was there and I knew that he had passed.

But I also knew that God was real. Haven't you. Was real well.

And so that's how I was able to turn toward God in that moment, because all of a sudden they knew that. I knew that I knew it was real.

Yeah. Yeah.

Well, this book, Surviving Sara, of course, grew out of your own personal experience and your loss of Austin. What are you hoping will happen to the readers who are particularly grieving moms as they read this book?

I'm hoping that they get a lifeline. Like I you know, at the time when we lost to Austin. I mean, there's lots of books about grieving and there's lots of books about God and Jesus and and all of that. But I needed a book not about grieving. Living like, how do I get through my day? How do I go on living? So I like to say that this this is a book about living, not grieving. And I hope it just helps them get some practical help and put one foot in front of the other and just go one day at a time and kind of give them some ideas of how to do that.

You know, talk about those early days of grief. You know, how do you navigate? You know, I'm sure there's overwhelming questions that go through your mind. You're dealing with a lot of things. What are some of the things you do or you maybe you did in those early days?

Oh, man. And now I. I wish I could go back and do some of them over again because, you know, it's OK. I guess I would say to the moms and parents out there who are in the middle of this kind of grief. I didn't handle things very well. I can tell you that. But you just do the best you can. And. And I think what I would say now in those early days is you just have to tell people because they don't know. You know, they they will they will stay away. Anybody who's willing to come near you right now, if you're in those early days of grief, they are brave. They're brave friends. And so you just got to tell them, like, I need quiet right now. I need grocery shopping. I need. To cry right now, you know, you just really have to tell people what you need in those early days because they they don't know. And so that I wish I would have done that, all of it better.

So, you know, the fact that they show up means that they care, but they don't always know how to help unless you tell them. Right.

Yeah, exactly. And you might be different then. Of course, you're different than them. So usually, I think, you know, Dr. Chapman, you talk about this like we give love, like we want to get love. Right. Like five love languages. And greening is the same. People will help you the way they would want to be helped. But that might not be what you need in your moment.

And so you have to tell them what you need because, you know, it might not be the same.

The problem is, Kim, a lot of times people who are gone through grieving are just so numb and have never been through that they don't know what they need. They they can't figure that out. Do you identify with that?

Oh, yeah. And that's that's why I say I wish I could go back and do it a little bit better. Differently because you are in just such a place where you you can't even you don't even know which way is up. And my I did see a counselor after we lost often. And she said, Cam, listen, if you get up and brush your teeth, it's a good day.

That's true. Yeah.

That's got to be encouraging to somebody who's listening, who's who's saying I'm a failure, you know? That's the other thing. You know, you had this big loss and then you feel bad. So you get this spiral that goes down, down, down. You're helping raise people up. Kim?

I hope so, because it it it does feel like you're sliding down, down, down. And that doesn't last. That's not true. You know, the truth is, you you can put one foot in front of the other one step at a time. You can live through this and live joyfully eventually like it. You can't do it.

Most people have heard of the stages of grief, but you guide readers through what you call survival steps and spiritual steps. Speak just a word about that.

Sure. I think that we've we've talked a little bit about like it's one step at a time. And so in that same idea, each chapter kind of deals with the things moms will encounter, the early stages of grief. What do you do with those memories that keep replaying in your mind? What do you do when somebody says, how many kids do you have? And so the survival steps are ideas from me that I've gathered from other moms of how they handled those things. Those are the survival steps. Like how do you get through this phase? How do you get through the holidays? How do you get through his or her birthday? And so the survival steps are super practical and a bunch of ideas in there about how you might do it. And then the spiritual stabs are really dealing with how you're feeling about God at that stage and in those kind of moments, you know, how do you feel about God when it's Christmas and where we're celebrating the birth of Christ and everybody is saying Merry Christmas and you don't feel very merry and you're not sure you're ready to celebrate God?

And so how do you what kind of spiritual steps, what kind of things can you do in your in your faith journey in order to to help you with those feelings?

And we're going to be looking at some of those in a moment. Why is talking about your grief so necessary?

You know, we were mentioning that just earlier.

Why is it so important that you talk about your feeling and what you're going through with with other people?

This is a this is kind of a funny question for me, because I'm not very good at that.

I know that I wrote the book, but it took me 10 years to write this, to kind of agree with the Lord to write this book because it is so difficult. And not very many people want to talk about their grief, but it is so necessary. One where he talked about no way, nobody knows what to do for you. And so you've got a you've got to talk to him. You have to tell him about it. But I will tell you, when I didn't talk about my grief, when I didn't let it out. It created all sorts of collateral damage in other areas in my marriage with my other child, with my job, with my friendships. And so I'm telling you, if you don't let it out, if you don't talk about it, it's going to come out some other way. And so I think it's necessary for healing and it's necessary so that other people can help you.

What do you think? Some people. I don't know if he used the word fear, but they are least reluctant to share, you know, and to talk about their grief. How do you think that is?

For me, it is felt like if I started talking about my loss, if I started talking about this pain, this grief, it would be like the Hoover Dam.

Have you ever seen the Hoover Dam?

It's enormous. Yes.

It would just crack open and the whole thing would just wash over me.

You know, mountains of water would just overtake me. I felt like if I started talking about this, about losing Austin and how much it hurt, it would just consume me. It really would consume me. Like, I'm we're fighting against it. We're fighting against this pain, consuming us and taking over our lives. And so we're trying to pick up the pieces. Right. And so if we start talking about it, I think a fear is like it will just let us overtake us. Yeah, and it's scary.

Feels it feels out of control, you know, whereas in reality, the opposite is true. This is what you were saying earlier, right? If you hold it inside, it's far more likely to be detrimental to your life in every other area than if you do talk about it.

That's right. I really feel like now that I'm no more than a decade past that early grief when it did feel like the Hoover Dam. You know, now it doesn't feel that way anymore. So if if there's no parents out there listening. I promise you it will get smaller. It won't go away, but it will get smaller and more manageable. And so it is. But it also is a force to be reckoned with. Right. And so, yeah, if you don't let it out, it can hit can really wreak havoc.

Can I ask what you did with Austin's birthday, Kim? How did you. And did that change through the years?

You know, it has not changed. And I feel like from talking with other parents that maybe Devin and I are unique in this, but. But maybe not. We actually don't celebrate Austin's birthday. We let the day pass with us with kind of as little fanfare as we can stand because. We just can't do it like there's there's just too much heartbreak there that my husband and I usually will do something like take a walk on the beach, you know, or go see a movie. Something that we can do that kind of just allows us to space out a little bit. You know, and just be. We just want to be together and just be. But creating Austin's birthday. We just can't do it.

Yeah. Yeah. But a lot of other people do fun stuff. They make cakes. They let balloons go. They have a party. There's life ideas in the book there. What other people do.

But that's what you're saying is it's okay to not do something. You could feel pressure from other people to say, well, you've got to celebrate this. He doesn't. You've got to know yourself and what what you can handle or can't and let that be okay. Right?

Oh, yes. And that you will get advice. Right. And you. Because we all get advice about a lot of things in life. And this is no different. Your family, your friends, people around you at work, they will you know, or they might look at you funny or, you know, really talk to you about it. People really did talk to us about this, like, are you guys should be celebrating this like or, you know, you can't just stick your head in the sand.

And you know what I say in surviving sorrow over and over is this like, listen, this is your loss, not theirs. This is your loss. This is your child. Yeah. And so whatever you can do or want to do is OK. And, you know, I was just talking about this with somebody yesterday that also applies to your spouse. Right. So what if I wanted to throw a big party and have a cake and balloons? But Devin didn't want to do that. Right. And now am I. As the wife going to say, wait, you're the dad. Get over here, we're celebrating his birthday. I can see where that would create a problem in the marriages. Right. And I from my perspective, we have to give our spouse as much grace as we would give someone else.

You know, if you met another mom who didn't want to have a birthday party or maybe she doesn't want to have a birthday party, you wouldn't you wouldn't judge her. You wouldn't put blame or you wouldn't cast anything on her. But Grace. And so I would encourage husbands and wives to give each other that same grace. Mike, if it's OK for somebody else, it's OK for your spouse to yell.

So I hear you saying, among other things there, that that often the father and the mother might feel differently about how to celebrate your birthday or how to process grief, for that matter.

Certainly, I think that's true. I'm so blessed that in many respects, Devin and I were on the same page from day one. And that's such a blessing. I praise God for that because I don't know, you know, you would just have to just like everything else. You'd have to talk it out. You'd have to compromise. You'd have to work it out between you. But I can definitely see where that where that would be different, you know, between, you know, between husband and wife about the whole question of medication.

You know, some Christians believe that medication of any kind means that you don't trust God. But is there a place for medication in the grief process?

Sure. I think, you know, trusting God and needing a little bit of help are two kind of different things. And for a while there. Hi.

I had to use some medicine in order to feel like myself. I really thought I really felt like I was losing my mind. I don't know any other way to say it. I would you know, I was back at work and trying to be a lawyer. And so I would read something or try to type an email and I couldn't get it done. I walked to the kitchen for a spoon to eat my lunch, my soup, and I walk in the kitchen.

I get there and figure out I don't know why I'm I don't know why I'm in the kitchen. And I walked back to my desk and see my suit being go off the spoon, walked back to the kitchen. By the time I get to the kitchen, which is, you know, about ten paces away from my office, I forgot again.

So I felt like I was really losing my mind. And I it was funny because I told the the doctor, I said, listen, I think I'm doing okay with the grieving, but I can't process anything. I can't think I can't remember simple things like the spoon. And I just I needed some help for a little while.

And the medicine just made me feel a little more like myself. You know, for those people out there who worry about that, it didn't make me feel loopy. It didn't make me feel intoxicated. It just did something that brought me back to myself for about six months. And then we worked our way off of it. But there's people who are gonna need it for maybe the rest of their life. And if you need it and it helps you, then I think that's OK.

And we're not talking about the kind of drugs that do put you in an unreal world, which is, you know, the opioids and things that we have today that is such a problem, a great country. But at the same time as Christians, we do have the outside help of God. And the promises of God that he has made can be a real anchor to us. You experienced that. Did you not?

Oh, that is that is definitely my story. I you know, I didn't know God before we lost Austin and I didn't even have a Bible.

And so I was deep in my grief. But but getting to know who God was and and getting to know Jesus and and what that's all about through scripture. And that just became really the thing, I think, that pulls me out of the pit of grief. Every single time when I'm having a bad day, if I get in a word, if I get in the scriptures and I ask God, like, help me, you know, he'll he'll this, you know, help this pain recede a little bit. And I specifically ask him for those things. And I turned to my Bible and his promises are there. And they're so powerful to take that pain out your heart out of your mind. I, I can't even say it enough. Like that is the single most important factor for me. And handling the pain of losing a child that is is there every day.

It's 13 years later almost. And it's still there every day. So is my Bible.

I have it every day. And.

The promises are there and, you know, I have some of them listed in a chapter that's called like for the rest of my life, like at some point you kind of realize, oh, my goodness, like I have to do this for the rest of my life. And that's where I kind of point the readers to some promises that are better in his word that you can count on and and how those can be an anchor for the rest of your life.

You know, I'm dealing with this. Know, no question about it.

The word of God is powerful and the promises of God. The good thing is he keeps his promises.

Thank goodness. I'm counting on it. Absolutely. Yeah.

Now, you describe grief in one place in the book as a tug of war. What do you mean by that?

Well, in initially, early on, it feels like a tug of war when you're you so want to cling to those memories of your child, like you never want to forget a single memory a single moment.

But as you pull those memories up, it makes the grief harder. And so you want to you want to kind of get your grief into a place where it feels like it's healing, like it's in lessoning, like you can handle it a little better. But when you start doing that, you feel a little bit like you're losing some of your child a little bit. And so it's like this back and forth. And the same thing goes with God, like you want to trust God. But this hurts so much. And you you want to believe God is loving and good and trust him. And yet, how could he allow this to happen? How could he allow this kind of loss, this kind of pain? And so it's that's that like tug of war between the pain of this and both your your efforts to keep going in life and your efforts to keep going with God.

You know, and we can be honest with God about those feelings and those thoughts. Right. Oh, my. Yeah.

I am someone who's read the books that I was pretty sassy. And I think that's probably true.

In fact, I have a story in there about my mom and she's so reverent in her faith. And and I am quite sassy about mine. And and I remember, you know, just saying, like, oh, God, I we are going to have a talk about the theme of like, whoa, bad.

She wasn't sure about that. And I said, no, God is my father. God, he is my creator. He is you know, he I know him through the word of God, through my faith in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. I know him and he knows me.

And so there's a chapter in there called Let Him Have It, because he's a big and mighty God. I'd like you to go ahead.

You know, just like when your toddler pitches a fit, you still love your toddler. You know, you you're just realize that they they're needing to pitch a fit right now. So I feel like God knows when I need to pitch a fit. And, you know, and then I always circle back around to his feet, you know, and be like, OK. But you are God, you're amazing. You are good. And I am just your child.

If you're just joining us, this is a best broadcast of Building Relationships. Kim Erichson is joining us and she became a Christian because of a huge loss in her life. And her book is the result of that process. It's titled Surviving Sorrow A Mother's Guide to Living with Loss. You can find it at five love languages dot com. Kim, a lot of people talk about writing as a catharsis. And I'm sensing that writing this book for you probably was on a lot of levels, helpful, but also really difficult. Is that true?

That is true. I did.

Yes. This definitely is a work of obedience. You know, this is definitely not a book that I wanted to write or that I want anybody to meet. And so it really was an act of of honoring God and what he has done for me. You know, he he rescued me. He saved me. He has put healing balm over my heart. And so this book is really just wanting to share some of that with the other moms who feel like, you know, their hearts are shattered. And so, really, it's it's an act of love for for the Lord and for what God has done for me.

Yeah, I can see that in writing the book. You you relive a lot of the emotions of those early days, as you describe that in in those early days. And we talked a little bit about this earlier.

And people want to help. What did you want from other people in those early months of grief? Did you want to be alone, left alone or what? What what did you want?

Yeah. This is the question. I get a lot right. Like, people really want to know what to do and and really for for us and and for many other moms that I've spoken to, we really want people to do a couple of things. One is be the same. Okay. Like if if you're the friend that that shows up with a casserole, then do that. But if you're the friend who hold me accountable can do that. Like everything else in our life has changed and feels out of our control and upside down. And so if you can just try to be the same, that that's really comforting.

Of course, just show up. Don't you don't need to ask, like, just just show up. And probably the third thing that that people don't talk about a lot is we don't want you to complain because it's really hard to hear you complain about anything while we're deep in it. And even, you know, it's it's been more than a decade now. And I still kind of have to ask for a whole bunch of grace in my heart when people start complaining because I'm thinking, wow, I, I, I don't know, it's just you're you're standing there living life without your child. And it's really hard. And so complaining holding back your complaining would be super helpful.

If they're complaining about their three year old and what they're doing and how awful it is to it's at the point at which you wanna cry, right?

You do. Or, you know, maybe a few other options. If you're sassy like me, I want to say, wow, like I would I would literally throw myself in front of a bus to hear my boys fight, you know what I mean?

Like, I would I would really do it now. All right.

Let's talk about the whole process of communication in marriage while you're walking through the grief charity. Why is that so important? And how did you and your husband communicate as you walk through this?

Yeah, we still hide it. Like even to this day, if I'm having a bad day, I will try to hide that from my husband because I don't want him to have a bad day if he's not having a bad day. And so my first instinct is to protect him. And probably his first instinct is to protect me. And so we you hide it. And when you do that, it trickles out in other areas. Right. You answer a little more sharply than you intended. You know, you snap about certain things that really aren't a big deal.

And so if you're not communicating, your wires get all crossed and things don't look the same. And plus, your your senses are heightened. Right. You're not as able to respond in gracious ways when when you're having a bad day. And so if you can communicate that it really takes effort, though, it really takes me to think, OK, I need to not hide this. I need to tell Devin that I'm having a bad day. And even, you know, and not thinking that's going to cause him to have a bad day. It actually helps him, too. It makes him feel like he can help me. Right. Like, oh, OK, honey. Like, what do you want to do? He can actually help me if I tell him. It doesn't make him have a bad day. It makes him feel important. It makes him feel like my partner and makes him feel like I trust him with this big giant pain in my heart. And so I think it really can deepen and strengthen your marriage, but not if you don't talk about it.

So I hear you saying that to say to your spouse, I'm having a bad day. I'm really struggling. And for them to say, tell me about it. And so you start telling them and they keep asking you questions and let you pour it out. It's help. It helps both of you because the listener is serving you and helping you. And it's a two way street because two days from now, they may be the ones who are having a hard day.

That's right. And you don't know what the triggers are, you know, unless you talk about it like, why are you having a bad day? Did you. Oh, a song on the radio. So you realize like. Oh, like Christian songs, like playing Christian music on the radio can sometimes be a huge trigger for my husband. And so I know that, you know, until he told me and so now I'm more more aware of when and where I play that music and whether what sort of day he's having. So it really can help if you can identify what those triggers are for each other and just be aware of that. That's great. Makes it way better.

You know, I think he probably would add also if your spouse does share some of their feelings. Don't preach to them.

Oh, yes.

I would especially say for the for the wives out there. My you know how people have a life. Verse. Well, I have a wife verse. And that's first Peter three. And it's. It really is. A matter of allowing your having a quiet and gentle spirit can be used by the Lord and having a quiet and gentle spirit is beautiful to the Lord and to your husband. And so I have to say that to myself. I am not a quiet and sexual fool by nature.

And so I really have to call on the word of God and call on the Holy Spirit to to help me be a quiet and gentle force. It becomes a force in my husband's life, if I can if I can display that to him and if I can treat him with that kind of grace and and respect.

And to the husbands, you know, I would say when your wife is sharing, you know, don't don't say you got to snap out of this now. We've had spent in years now. It's been eight years have been eight months. We get we get snap out of the ashes. Yeah. That does not help. That is condemning to the wife. And yet, you know, sometimes the one who may not be feeling it like the other one is feeling in the end, they feel like you need to be getting along faster than they is. But we have to allow each other to process it at our own rate, right?

Yeah. And I tell you will. It will ebb and flow. You know, you you may feel like your a little further along in your grief at a certain time artists a certain moment. And then the next thing you know, it seems like your husband is further along than you. And and I feel like it's just like kind of mountain climbing. Right. Like you have that safety rope between you and. And sometimes one leaves and sometimes the other one leaves and just know that that's going to happen over and over again as you continue to work through your grief and work through your marriage. You will exchange places and you'll hold each other up and just know your time is coming. You know, to be the one who needs a little lifting up.

So, you know, your husband penned a letter to Wives in morning that's included in the book. Can you describe that letter? Force a bit.

My heart. My heart. Yes. That's my heart. I tell you, that was beautiful. It was an idea given given to us. And it was a great idea because it it did it even then allow me to see other parts of Gavin's grief that I didn't know. And so the letter is two wives. How about had some advice about how to help their husband there, how to how to deal with their husbands during this grief?

And, you know, something that that Devin says in that letter is just to remember that you're still. A family. You are still the wife, he loves you. He's still the husband you love. We know you're still a family. Even with this big loss. And one of my favorite lines that that he said in this letter that I had never heard him say before was your love is stronger than loss.

Love is stronger than loss. I mean, I was like, that's it right there. That's how your marriage survives this kind of loss.

By focusing on your love and not on your loss. It was an amazing, beautiful.

Came in the last section we were talking about. Husband and wife and processing grief in different ways. But you also say that going through a deep loss together as husband and wife can actually strengthen the marriage.

I think that's absolutely true. Nobody but your husband or nobody but your wife has the same hole in their heart as you do.

And that that can be a really bonding experience. Nobody in the whole world was your child's parent but your husband or your wife.

And so they do know how you're feeling. It may be the only other person in the world who knows how you're feeling.

And I really think that can strengthen your marriage. And I write in and surviving sorrow that you didn't have a choice about your child's death. You didn't have a choice in their passing. But you do have a choice for your marriage. You do have a choice that you will be committed. That's my advice to the wife. And when my part that I wrote is, hey, you be committed.

You've got to commit to your marriage. And and if you can have that choice that this marriage, my marriage will survive this, I will commit to my husband and getting through this together. That's so important because it is hard. It is really difficult. And you have to be committed. And I think Devin is right. If you focus on your love and not as much on your life, you can you can have a better marriage today or tomorrow or next year than you had before this loss. It might be one of the few things that can be better than that, you know, because we divide our life between before often died and after Lofton died. That's just the reality of a grieving parents. They're going to live the rest of their days on this earth as before and after. Your marriage is one of these few places where it can be better in the after if you focus on your love.

And that's certainly what we hope for, for every couple. I would think that a couple who really did not have a healthy marriage, you know, before the death of a child. It might be the trigger that brings them together, and I can also see that that might be kind of the breaking point, which would be tragic, you know. Yeah, right. So, yeah, I think a lot has to do with our relationship with God. And you talk about that in the book. You know, God, God's healing that that he offers. And talk about your own experience in terms of your sensing God really weeping with you, walking with you through this.

I remember so well coming on that passage in the Gospel of John. It's in John, 11:00. And Jesus gets a message from his friends that one of his friends is dying. Lazarus is dying. And he doesn't go right away. And Lazarus dies. And then he finally makes his way a few days later to their home. And Mary and Martha, I love this because it's a little fassie like me.

They're like, Jesus. Where were you? Why weren't you here if you had been here?

My brother would not have died, you know, and they really are crying out to him and in all the ways a parent does. Like, why were you here? Where were you? Why did you allow this to happen? And I love it.

Jesus did not rebuke them for that. He did not chide them. He did not say, hey, you know, don't question me. I'm God. I'm the Messiah. He was so distraught that he wept. He saw the people grieving Lazarus and grieving the death of a loved one. And he cried. He wept with them. And I just in that moment reading that, I thought, oh, Lord, you are crying, too, like you are weeping over death. And the other kind of point on that same line is that when you're a grieving parent, you feel like a lot of other people can't really they if you haven't lost a child, you don't know what this feels like. You know, I guess what? God allowed his only son to come to this earth and be put to death. Creator God, Father God, king of the universe.

He lost a child. I can't put he allowed his child to suffer and die. And God understands God himself. For a time, there was a grieving parent. And I think he grieves over this lost world and he grieves over death. It's not the way he planned it. And so I think he cries right along with us.

Yeah, too powerful a picture when you really focus on Jesus crying, as you said. I don't think he was crying because only of Lazarus death, because he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the grave. Right. That's it. I thought he was looking down the hallway of history and there was to come the future and crying because he knew the pain that this brings into him. Lisa. That's powerful. You talk about the triggers that kind of stimulate pain even after months or sometimes years of things that can happen at work or at home or at the grocery store.

Her say, or some of those experiences that triggers are everywhere and they're sneaky. Like you just think you're having this fine day, you feel like you're doing great. And just all of a sudden something else pop up. It can be smell. It could be soap at the gym. That's a funny story because with often he was having a fafi mouth. And I said, listen, you're going to get soap.

And that fafi mouth means that you don't have any soap in the car. And he was right. I didn't have any soap. And I said, well, they had soap at the Y.

You're going to the YMCA. They have soap at the YMCA and I will put soap in your Zazie mouth. Was like, oh.

So sometimes when I see that kind of soap, I, I remember that moment when he was like, you don't have any soap at the grocery store.

Oh. I mean that kind of any place you went with your child can be a trigger. Photos, songs, smells. You know, just they're everywhere.

And and so just don't be surprised when you're surprised by them. Those are the toughest ones. Like, you can get prepared for the holidays. You can get prepared for Mother's Day. But if the sneaky things that that get you. Like at a grocery store and you pack your favorite cookies, you know. And now all of a sudden you're as you're doing, the ugly cry at the grocery.

And everybody looking at you and it's terrible, but I will tell you, those do get smaller.

Those do get less and less as the years go on. You you. They get less and they get smaller, you know.

What are the challenges for parenting your surviving children after there's been the loss of a child?

Well, you just want to roll them up and bubble wrap and never let them leave the house.

You really don't want you know.

I know that there will be parents out there like me and like Devon who feel we failed like our job was to protect these children. Our job is to, you know, to protect them and raise them up and train them. And how did this happen? And so you feel a little bit like it's your fault, even though that's your rational. Like, I know that. I know that it's not my fault.

But you still feel that way. And so how do you parent your other children without destroying their lives? Right. Like, I. I could be a mess and. And just trying to control every little thing about Ethan and, you know, never letting him ride a bike. You know, often died from something so simple as strep throat.

You know, how do I even let my kids heroes bike to school today? How do I even let him do that?

And I think the answer was, I don't think the answer the answer is this.

You have to get to a place where you realize and acknowledge and let it go that your child, your children, they're not yours. They belong to the Lord and Ethan belongs to God. And God can take him home whenever he wants because the open belongs to the Lord.

And I have to put him there every single day. I have to set him before the Lord and say, Lord, he is yours. You know, I can ask for things, but I really have to understand that even my life is not my own. It belongs to the Lord.

Ken, this has been very, very helpful. Let me just close with this question. Why is it so essential that we not put a time limit on our grief? You know that we've got to be through this by a certain time, a certain year.

Sure. I know people will say that. You know, people have said to us, you know, you it's you're going to have to get on with life or you're going to have to get over it or something like that. And I think with other losses, that's true. You do move into a point where you are moving forward through it. But it's just not true of grieving the loss of a child. It's just not true. You're going to carry that grief every single day and you're just going to have to get better at it every day. You're going to get better at it as you go. But there really is. That's the uniqueness, I think, of losing a child, is that it doesn't have a time limit. And that's OK.

Well, Kim, thanks for being with us today and thanks for taking the time and energy and effort to write this book, because I think it is going to be helpful to anyone who has lost a child. So may God continue to give you wisdom and your husband. And as you seek to help others. God bless you. Thank you.

Man Kim Erickson has gone through such a devastating loss, and I believe she is stewarded her pain so well by writing this book, Surviving Sorrow A Mother's Guide to Living with Loss. Find out more at five love languages dot com again, five love languages, dot com. Coming up next week, our summer best of series continues with help and hope for your blended family. Ron Deal of family life. Blandings will join us with a lot of hope for step parents and step children to thrive.

Don't miss it. In one week. Our thanks to our production team Steve Wick and Janice Todd. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production at Moody Radio in Chicago in association with Moody Publishers, a Ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.


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