Jesus Lifted My Obsessive Grief Over the Loss of My Child!
My daughter Brittany was the middle child of three girls. She was full of life and sure loved to live it. However, at the age of 9 months, she began to lose weight and her skin yellowed. We were not sure what has happening. After a few months the medical profession could still find nothing wrong with her, thus labeling her simply 'Failure to Thrive.' They blamed me for her problem saying that she was too attached to me, thus again, the failure to thrive. However, wesaw a child psychologist, who proceeded to tell the specialist pediatrician that it was not the case and that our relationship was fine and healthy. Nevertheless they weren't convinced and sent me away for two weeks. We were not to see or talk to her for the duration of that time, and she was only a year old! It was devastating, and "I was at fault. I was the one causing this – to her and to us." (That's what I believed) It tore me apart.
I was a person who had little self confidence, much self hatred (which I didn't realize until years later) and no self worth. So this did not help me at all. It only seemed to confirm what I was so afraid of – I wasn't good at or for anything!!
Thirteen months later, after numerous hospitalizations and seeing many different doctors, Brittany was diagnosed with chronic Aplastic Anemia – bone marrow failure. For the next 5 years, she was admitted to the hospital once a month for 7-10 days with some form of infection which could ultimately be life threatening for her. It was a very difficult thing, because having two other little girls at home, things became very complicated. Having to leave them with different people all the time while being at the hospital, being at home when they went to bed at night and not being there in the morning because we had ended up rushing her to the hospital during the night; emotions ran high especially with our oldest daughter who was only about 7-8 at the time and our youngest only 2-3.
After five years of this, we were at a children's hospital for some surgery. They decided since she would be put to sleep they would do another bone marrow biopsy. A month later we received the word that Brittany had Myelodysplasia – a form of pre-leukemia. The Aplastic Anemia had only been a symptom, not the disease itself. We were stunned.
I did as much research as I possibly could so we would know what we would be dealing with. I learned that if we did not get a bone marrow match for a transplant and without a miracle from Jesus, leukemia would develop within fifteen months and Brittany would die. We were devastated.Our family members were tested but NO ONE was a match. Not even close. So it was opened up to the International Bone Marrow Registry but again we had no match.
Shortly after getting this last diagnosis,her blood bottomed out and for the next eighteen months, she was transfused with platelets and red blood cells anywhere from four to seven days a week. Because I was so needed by Brittney my other girls hardly saw me. Our oldest acted out in extreme ways which made me feel guilty and yet I believedI didn't have a choice. I had to be there for Brittany. What was a mom to do?
Brittany began having extreme nose bleeds because of the low platelets. As time went on, the platelets were not working anymore. It was harder and harder to find blood that would raise her counts to safe levels, and then they wouldn't last. I felt so helpless, so powerless, a failure for not being able to protect my daughter from the ultimate – death. But if I couldn't do that, I believed that I was going to be in control of everything else so that I could prove I was a good mom. I made sure I knew everything there was to know about her illness, her treatment, her procedures and their results. There was nothing I didn't know or have control of, except how to save my little girl.
One night Brittany began to have a nose bleed and we could not get it stopped. Our pediatrician had told us if we wanted to pray for anything, pray that she would not die this way as it is gruesome and fearful and not the memory you want to have left when she is gone. Yet, here she was, bleeding and it wouldn't stop. She bled for about 4 hours. They packed her nose with cocaine (this shrinks the blood vessels to stop the bleeding) but she had lost a lot of blood and her platelet levels were very low. That night she went into a coma and we were told that she would just slip away and die. But she surprised everyone the next morning and woke up – weak, but she was awake laying in bed reading a book with her dad. We were all stunned – doctors included.
She basically spent the day, in her own way, saying good bye to everyone, which we realized later.
That night she began to bleed again and there was no stopping it. She knew it. I knew she did and she was so calm and so peaceful as she sat there.I wanted to take her and shake her and tell her to cry or scream or yell or something. But she knew she would be with Jesus that night – and she was okay and early that morning she dies with her entire family around her.
I was devastated. I knew it was coming but that didn't seem to matter. All my life I had walked in rejection and all my other issues but it was Brittany who had accepted me just for who I was. I used to tell people that she was my unconditional love, my total acceptance, the only one who made me feel like I was worth anything and I was proud of what I had done. I had been in control that whole time of her illness and no one could have done any better. I would tell people that and thought it was a good thing. Little did I know...
We got through the funeral and for the next 6 months I spent EVERY Monday at the hospital in Britt's room rocking in the rocking chair I had used so often. The rest of the week I spent sitting out at the cemetery at her grave, journaling and crying. Every day. I was headed for trouble and ended up in serious obsessive grief. I didn't know what was going on with my other two children. I still have little to no memories of them during that year and a half. All I wanted to do was die and be with her. I would drive around in the middle of the night, trying to convince myself to drive into the cement bridge or the river that runs through our city. Only by the grace of God did I not do it.
I was a mess and in great trouble but didn't know where to turn or what to do. And the longer time went on, the more obsessed I became because it seemed as if she was getting further and further away from me – so I held on to the memory even tighter. It was a losing battle.
I struggled for almost a year and a half and then one night I had a face to face encounter with Jesus.At that time I had never heard of Theophostic Prayer Ministry before, but I realize now that is exactly what took place.
I was at my wits end and hitting rock bottom. Everything in me was dead. One day I felt the Lord was prompting me to attend a Christian renewal service. After having received prayer from some of the people there it seemed like nothing was happening. I felt God had deserted me too. He not only took Brit, but He had left me. I kept asking Him why He was touching everyone else but not me when I know He had called me to come. I didn't know He was getting me ready.
The next night I went back to the church and again received some prayer. However, this time after they had prayed I suddenly sensed a bright, bright light shining on me. Since I was laying on the floor I opened my eyes and looked up at the ceiling but nothing had changed in the auditorium. I closed my eyes again and sensed it again. It stayed for a minute or so then started to leave. Immediately I heard myself say these words; DON'T TAKE YOUR SON AWAY FROM ME! I surprised myself. And immediately the light grew stronger. Again it happened and I said………. DON'T TAKE YOUR SON AWAY FROM ME! And it grew intently again. The third time, I said the same words, but it dimmed until it was gone. Then, I sensed what seem like hearing words inside of me: "You have to give Britt to me." I was stunned.
I said, "Lord, I've already done that."
I heard, "You gave her to me alive but you have not given her to me dead."
I was so full of fear: fear that if I chose to give her to Him dead, that I would lose her forever and I would be left with this HUGE hole inside of me and so empty. (What a lie of the enemy.) I lay there in the biggest struggle of my life.
My heart just broke. I told Him that I just couldn't do that.Then heard Him say: "I have Brittany and she is fine. Whether you give her to me or not, you cannot have her back. But if you don't, then I have done all I can in you."
I began to sob as my heart's desire has always been to serve Him and be used by Him. To be all He wants me to be. But how do I make this choice? I finally told Him that I just couldn't. It hurt too much.
I again heard Him speak and He said: "I know how much it hurts. I lost my son too!"
I was stunned. I couldn't believe what I had heard. I could hardly take it in. Then I realized, if a God who created the universe and everything in it could/would compare Himself to me and my situation, how could I say no to Him?!
Finally, with everything in me, I said;
"Okay. I give her to you alive and I give her to you dead. Take her, and I will never take her back!!!!!"
Immediately, I sensed such fullness and such a sense of love. I have never experienced such intense emotion in my entire life. His peace and His love filled me till I felt like I was going to burst. I knew He had healed me – had changed me in an incredible way. The journey had begun.
I went home the next day and my best friend took one look at me and said: "What happened to you?" She said my eyes were alive like she had never seen. Where they had become dead holes, reflecting my heart, they were now dancing. Jesus had begun a healing in me. It was awesome.
Over the next few years Jesus and I had a wonderful time. He opened doors for me with other families who had a terminally ill child or who had lost one of their children. He gave me opportunities to minister to those who were going through grief and loss. I could think of Brittany and there would be peace where there had been such pain before. It was amazing. I could smile when I heard her name, when I thought of the memories that we had of her. It was good and then Jesus saw it was time for more.
At this time I had become familiar with Theophostic Ministry and had taken the seminar and become a facilitator. I had been doing ministry for about 2 ½ years and by that time realized what had taken place that night in the church renewal meeting. It was a Theophostic moment and I hadn't known it. I was attending a Theophostic Prayer Ministry Training Seminar one weekend and was watching the videos of Dr. Ed Smith sharing. He was talking about his little girl and her death and how Jesus had healed him and his wife of their grief through this ministry. As soon as he said that they had not even thought of her anniversary date on the day (or birthday, can't remember which) because the pain was gone, I had a volcano of emotion begin to come up in me. The anger I felt was unbelievable. All I could hear in my mind was the word screaming inside of me BETRAYAL! … BETRAYAL! … BETRAYAL! It was almost more that I could stand. How could they EVER forget something so important, or at least let it go by without acknowledging it. This was their daughter they had lost. I was so angry I felt like I wanted to stick my fist through the screen of the TV.
I kept my cool and asked a question concerning what Dr. Smith had shared. Not too specific, but the facilitator's wife was quite perceptive and very discerning. She later came to me and said if I would like to have some ministry, she would be willing to walk it through with me. All I could think of was that I had already been healed. I was fine and didn't need it. I didn't know just how deep the grief still went in me, let alone the guilt and shame that went along with it. (What had happened in that moment was I had been "triggered" by what he had said. His words exposed places that still needed to be dealt with.)
After the seminar that day, I got together with her. We went through each step of the day before my daughter's death from the beginning of the nose bleed to the end of the funeral. It was blessed and amazed to how Jesus came into each of those places and met me where I was. He did not expect me to be something or someone I wasn't. He graciously met me right into the midst of the pain.
I saw Him standing next to me when the doctor told me if he couldn't get the bleeding to stop. Britt would die that night. I saw Him with His arm around me when the doctor told us on Sunday night that there was nothing else that could be done and that she was going to die. I needed so badly to know where Jesus was the night I laid in her bed next to her as the life left her. He came into that memory and showed me that He sat right up at the head of her bed, right next to us. We were never left alone. We went to memory after memory and He showed Himself to me in each one. Each time, more and more of the pain left, the feeling of being abandoned that night, wondering where He was. We got to the end and I had complete peace. Almost…….
I still sensed there was something nagging but I couldn't put my finger on it. I eventually realized the year and a half that I had no memories of my other two girls contained pain. I had no idea how they even survived through that time. My oldest was eleven years old and my youngest six. I don't remember getting them up for school, feeding them at lunch – nothing! The guilt and shame that began to fill me was overwhelming. I cried and cried. How could I have done that to them? What kind of a mother am I? Then,my prayer facilitator asked Jesus what He wanted me to know. I saw myself standing at the stove cooking eggs and I saw a pair of hands covering mine from behind. I realized Jesus was standing behind me and He was moving my hands while I cooked. He was doing it with me. I then saw myself standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes and the same thing was happening. I got through it because He was right there behind me, helping me get through the entire time! I heard Him say to me that it was okay and suddenly…… it was. There was peace except for a bit of guilt that was still there, but not quite the same as it felt before.
Again,my prayer facilitator asked what was happening and I realized I felt guilty that even though I had tried so hard to make everything okay for my family while Brittany was ill, it had left some pretty deep wounds in my kids and husband (as her whole illness and death was very hard on our marriage as well) and the girls had turned away from their relationship with the Lord. I felt responsible and therefore guilty. She asked Jesus what the truth was. Immediately I saw this picture of a HUGE hand. It had a scar in the middle of it. Off to the side in like a mist, I could see Brittany playing and dancing with not a care in the world. She was totally okay. Then when I looked back at the hand, I saw my husband standing and my two girls sitting on the hand, right on top of the scar. Then I heard Him say to me;
"They are my responsibility, not yours. You leave them in my hand and I will take care of them."
Immediately the guilt and false sense of responsibility left and there was 100% complete peace. I felt like a rag doll, all my energy gone but inside I felt so alive, so full of peace and contentment it is hard to put it into words.
Brittany's anniversary date was coming up the next month. I asked my friend who was at the seminar with me, to check with me the next month because that was going to tell if there solution I experienced with the prayer ministry was real or not.
One day near the end of October my oldest daughter came home from school and nothing had been said about Brit. I finally asked her at the end of the day if she knew what day it was. She said yes it was Friday. She said nothing more. I turned to her and said that it was Britt's anniversary. She looked at me and said, "No mom, it's only the 23rd today. It's not until the 25th". I began to laugh. I couldn't believe it. I had got the date wrong. There was no guilt, no self-loathing because I had got it wrong. I just laughed and laughed. IT WAS OKAY!
Since then, I hardly ever think about it as it comes around. Last year I only remembered on the day because my friend called upset because it was the anniversary date of her death. And when I do remember, it is with a smile to think of the impact she is having on heaven. You'd have had to know her to know what I mean by this!
I just thank Jesus that He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. He is the Way to my freedom and peace, He is the Truth that shatters the lies that I believe and He is the Life that fills me to overflowing when the lies are exposed and dispelled.
I thank the Lord for this ministry. The Lord has used it to transform my life. I walk in more truth and freedom than I ever have because of His great love, grace and mercy to care enough about us to meet us right where we are at and bring us further on the journey to where He is calling us to be.
To Him be glory and honor and power – forever – AMEN!.