Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Faith in the Midst of Tragedy - November 1, 2009

To have a strong faith when life is good and all is going well is not that difficult. The "Thank you, God for this, that and the other" is easy to pray. When times are tough, however, or when an unexplainable tragedy hits home as in what happened to us when our 17-year old son took his life in March, then having faith and trusting God becomes exponentially harder. At least for me.

The age old question surfaces, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" And "why did God allow this to happen? Why didn't He intervene?"

On a previous post, I had shared that to help me with the question of faith, I am working on a cross stitch of the beautiful Footprints vignette. Each stitch is a reminder that I am not walking on this grief journey alone.

In my journal, I wrote the following...

I have been walking this grief journey or through the grief tunnel, one step at a time and have felt alone for no one can do this for me. But I must remember that I am not alone for the Lord is by my side. He has not forsaken me. He has guided me - without my being aware. In the days right after Josh's death, He has directed the creation of the blog. Also, everything came together for the service - a massive undertaking to organize in just two days, under the most horrible circumstances.

I have seen and felt God in all of the ways that people have reached out to us and have felt strengthened by the numerous prayers lifted to the heavens on our behalf. In the midst of all of the bad that is reported in the news daily - the corruption in politics, business and sports, people are good. Have good hearts. Are kind, giving and loving. Willing to share, help, encourage and lift up. We are still getting cards and gifts even though it has been over seven months.

Pre-Josh, I was getting cynical about people - their motives, superficiality and hypocrisy. Then this horrible, tragic event happened to us and rather than feeling shunned or stigmatized, beginning with Josh's friends, we were surrounded by love and fellow grievers. It was the kids first - I will never forget how those young people came over, gave us great big bear hugs and wept unashamedly while looking at the pictures of Josh and writing in his book.

Our neighborhood provided daily meals for weeks. Friends helped tirelessly in our home - organizing and serving food and helping with the numerous plants and flowers being delivered daily. The friends of our surviving kids came that weekend by plane, car, bus and train. All three of them had a "posse" of friends surrounding them - encouraging, supporting and helping them get through this tragedy. Our own family flew or drove from great distances - leaving their own family vacation and even canceling a long awaited trip to China to come and be with us.

Then the hundreds of people who came to the service; many driving for hours to be with us, give a hug, show their support, and share their stories of Josh. And the thousands who have read his blog. The outpouring of love was and still is overwhelming. People are good - I was losing sight of this.

It feels like the movie "Pay it Forward". After being the recipient of a good deed, you turn around and do good for someone else. Maybe this is what is being done through Josh's blog - as it has appeared to help many people who struggle with the harsh inner feelings that can spiral into dark thoughts.

I hope the blog is helping parents open up the lines of communication with their kids, regardless of age, so that all unresolved issues can be brought out into the open, talked about, dealt with and forgiven. I realize now more than ever, that life is too short to keep from being close to the ones we love.

I hope kids will realize that parents are trying their best but are only human. We have our faults. We cannot read minds. That if there are things that are bothering you or dynamics in the family that hurt you - speak up and say it! If it is too hard to say, write a letter. Be open. Express yourself. If you need help, admit it and get it.

Our son did not do this and I wonder, why didn't he? Pride, fear, embarrassment? Maybe he didn't want to be looked at or thought of differently. Maybe he was afraid of what would happen if he really said what he thought. I don't know, but I wish to God that he had been open. Because he would still be here. What he did is what is often said about suicide: a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As his mother, this is what pains me the most.

I know that I need help. It would be easy to just shut myself off from people - no visits, phone calls, emails or posts on the blog. But this is not God's way. He works through others to provide love, support, guidance and healing. Prayer is a bit difficult these days, but when I think about all of what has been done for us, I can say my own "Thank you" prayer to God.

God Bless


Anonymous said...

To Josh's Mom,
I lost my son two and a half years ago. I read many books about grief searching for answers to our tradgedy. The book which helped me the most (brought the most comfort) was Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Kushner. It was nice to read that your outlook on people has changed - that people reached out to you and helped you and cared for you. My family experienced quite the opposite...people avoid us perhaps because they don't know what to say. We lost our son in an act of violence. It was random and the act of one horrible individual which took our beautiful son's life and our life as we knew it. Unfortunately, I always thought people were good-hearted and I saw the best in everyone and everything. I loved the world and people in it. I now think people are cold and selfish and incapable of true compassion. I am glad to read that you have not had the same experience that we have had. Keep writing. Take Care.

Josh's mom said...

Dear fellow mother,
I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved son. Love and support from others cannot erase the pain, but it help to ease it and I am sorry that you have not had as much as you needed.

Tell me, since it has been two and half years for you, how are you doing? One mother wrote in one of the books that I read, that the 2nd year was harder than the first. I thought, "Oh no! Please - that can't be! Nothing can be harder that what I have felt the past 7 months!"

How did you get through the first major holidays without your son? When I think of what is coming up over the next three months (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Josh's 18th b-day in January), I get so overwhelmed to where I can barely breathe. So I have to stop thinking of the future and take one day at a time, because I don't think I can bear it.

Thank you for the name of the book - I will have to look it up.

I wish......that both of us had our sons back.

Sue said...

I know it is hard to pray right now. I can only imagion...I want you to know that I am holding you up in prayer every day. It is the only thing I can do most days for you. I seem to pray more when I have no answers and the past seven months I have had no answers. So I pray and pray. I pray for comfort for peace for understanding for signs from Josh for you to feel God's Love, Josh's love.
I pray that people remember Josh always. I pray that you feels someone's love each day.
Love you Roxanne