Child-loss From a Mother’s Heart, Guest Writer: Jessica Stewart

When my youngest child and only son, Joel, passed away God was there with us. After fighting such a long battle, I was jaded. Prayer felt pointless, Scripture sounded cliché. Only listening to worship kept the spark of love I have for God alive.
A few months ago, I heard the inaudible voice of the Lord tell me that I need to forgive Him. “But I was never mad at Him,” I thought. God brought to memory my heart’s position on Joel’s Home-going: God knows more than me & brought Joel Home at this time for a reason I’m not going to grasp on this side of eternity. He LOVES Joel. He LOVES me. I know this with ALL of my heart. Like parents, God makes His decisions based on what’s best for His children.
I held God responsible. He numbered Joel’s days. He did Not give Joel cancer. He mercifully and peacefully brought him Home.
My son is so happy. I am the one who is so sad.
In essence I believed & accepted God caused me the GREATEST PAIN OF MY LIFE.
And after a year, I forgave Him.
It was a HUGE moment for me. I tucked it into my heart, I had been missing Jesus so much. I couldn’t connect with Him for a year. We used to have an intimate, growing, close relationship. I thought something magical would follow, from this day forward I would feel close to the Lord again, crave the words in the Bible, sing songs of worship with ever fiber of my being, FEEL His presence.
But, it did not turn out to be that simple. It’s a process.
I had developed some bad habits over the year (disclaimer, I don’t do these unhealthy things in excess OR daily, but I did create a way of living that didn’t include Jesus):
*TV to drown out my thoughts & memories & very VIVID flashbacks
*Having a strong drink after a night of realistic nightmares sat on me like a suffocating weight through the following day. (I have recurring dreams of trying to save Joel from a variety of really bad things)
*Meds when I am overcome with anxiety & none of the techniques pastors & therapists have taught me are “working”
*Filling my time with people and projects, leaving no time for Jesus
*Believing I only have true joy when I’m playing with my grandson or eating chocolate.
Awareness is step one to CHANGE.
Joel, my sweet son, battled an UGLY chemo-resistant Acute Myeloid Leukemia from age 15 through 16, then went Home to a Loving, Merciful, Safe GOD. Joel is still part of my life. Every day I think of him. I watch videos of him when I need to hear his voice. I eat his favorite food on the monthly anniversary of his Home-going or when I go somewhere he loved going to. I watch sunsets like we loved to do when he was healthy, I watch the moon change nightly, like we did from his hospital room for months. I advocate for children with cancer, love on their moms, educate on Leukemia, and raise funds to bring fresh water to children who never had any (to continue Joel’s heart’s desire).
A parent never gets over or moves on from their child passing away. There will never be a normal or a new normal. I can live with that. My life is forever changed. I accept that.
I’m Jessica, mom of Jordan, Justine and Joel.  Wife of Aaron. Daughter of Christ. Granny to Charlie. Friend to anyone who will let me in. I’m loved by God. I’m growing & hurting & healing and Human. I’m just now able to hear Scripture on healing and miracles without cringing. And it’s okay. I walk slowly in God’s Grace, moving forward, imperfect, and probably looking forward to Heaven more than your average person.

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