A man named Job asked the question, “Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; which long for death, but it cometh not?” A person may not be suicidal, but if we have been on this earth very long at all, we have probably all had mornings when we wished we did not have to wake up.
Our second child, Seth James Cox, went to his rest in the hope of the resurrection due to a motorcycle accident, December 14, 2006, in Rancho Cordova, California. He was less than two months from his 20th birthday. Seth was born February 8, 1987 in Granville, New York where he grew up. He was home-schooled, and at age 16 he was baptized into the local church and by 18 moved to California to work for a friend of the family. He also worked at Leoni Meadows Camp and lastly in the shipping dept. at Amazing Facts, a Christian ministry. He was looking forward to going to Africa to work with his brother.
Seth loved people and was enthusiastic, always making plans. He would go out of his way to help others. He loved conversing with family and friends by phone or computer. Seth loved the country life, exploring mountains spending time at the beach, fixing up and riding antique snowmobiles and enjoyed snowboarding to name a few.
Seth had been active with the local diabetes organizations, Piedmont Valley Youth Bible Camps in Virginia and General Youth Conferences of his church. Though it has been almost nine years, since that day, we his family, have been personally aware that all is not right with this world. Every day someone's child dies, and the pain begins anew. Our heavenly Father Himself sees His own children suffer and die on a daily basis. Thankfully, we may go to Him to find comfort and peace in the bewildering storms of life.
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The following was a presentation paper for a grief class at camp meeting which Debbie Cox (Seth’s mother) presented.
When the soul is pressed in pain, the words seem to flow easier, especially when desiring to help others. It is not always easy to go back and revisit. But then there are good and happy memories too.
Considering the topic of grief, last night’s sermon about our sympathizing Savior was very apropos. Jesus was a man of sorrows and it says, acquainted with grief. I suspect we use that word acquainted a LOT more lightly these days.
A man named Job asked the question, “Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; which long for death, but it cometh not?”
A person may not be suicidal, but if we have been on this earth very long at all, we have probably all had mornings when we wished we did not have to wake up.
There are different causes of grief: death of a loved one, suicide, life changing or life threatening illness, crippling accidents, divorce, prodigal children, our own sins and mistakes and other things that we can hardly even speak of, let alone think of. Grief gives us two dilemmas: What to do when others are grieving? What to do with our own grief?
I will talk mainly from my own experiences because that is what I know. People grieve in different ways, some ways are healthy, some not so healthy. And people relate to grieving people in different ways also.
As far as serious grief goes, I have suffered the realization that my brother may always be house bound as he has agoraphobia, the loss of my mother to cancer and the pain my father went through as a result, two years after that the sudden loss of my son, Seth in a motorcycle accident--that was three and a half years ago, and seven months later the break-up of my other son’s family. There were additional deep sorrows that I cannot speak of with most people.
I know in my pre-grief days, (I guess that’s what you’d call it) when someone’s child died, it was something that was very disturbing. It was hard to relate to and not something that one much wants to try to enter into imagining what it must be like--an extremely fearful sort of thing, being a mother myself.
My nephew died at age 17 and a friend’s daughter at age 4. I was a young mother when my nephew died and we moved near his family shortly after. Though it was really sad and we missed Eddie, I did not really have much of a clue what it was like for his parents and family.
A little while after our friends' daughter died suddenly in a tragic accident, I started to get to know the mom better. We were both pregnant and traveled together to see the midwife for prenatals. We went to childbirth classes together along with our husbands, I was there for the birth of her baby. I remember just watching Tammy and thinking, “she is living, she is living through this.” It is possible to live through such sorrow and even smile and laugh sometimes. Later, I would remember that others were watching me after losing my son and that I was privileged to witness FOR, in favor of, the God of heaven.
When my son died, most people really didn’t know what to say. I appreciated them saying just that and was fine with whatever people said, even if it seemed inappropriate, because they were at least attempting to show that they cared.
At first I hardly knew what to say either! I remember finding myself with my hand over my mouth many times. I did say, at least in my mind, that I would continue to praise God. Like Job, when his wife urged him to curse God and die, I would not sin against God with my lips. Bowing down with my face to the ground in submission to the Lord, who gives and takes away, was the spiritual stance I took.Back to what to say when someone suffers the loss of a loved one. Talking about that loved one, reminiscing about them, is music to their ears, even years later. Even if you think you may have said the same thing before. There are only past memories and future hope for the deceased. Nothing new is happening. If someone tells you something simple about your loved one that you didn’t know about, as was the case last month when one of my son’s friend’s mom told me about observing him checking out the young ladies at a camp meeting in CA, it brought me joy.
And for me (I think for everyone) it was very good to talk and talk and talk about the loss, it helps with processing. Death is never really totally acceptable--it is an enemy. It is so contrary to the way things were meant to be. But I needed to ponder a LOT of things with God and with others. So listen, listen, and listen some more. You don’t even have to say a word.
Instead of reading much of what to expect in my grief according to man‘s studies, I decided that I would grieve with God and see where He would take me. Everyone grieves a little bit differently. Mother grieves differently from Father, siblings, none exactly the same.
About two weeks after my son’s death, lying in bed one morning at a Generation of Youth for Christ meeting that Seth, Sierra and I were planning to attend together, I said to the Lord, “I didn’t want to go through the time of trouble, because this was enough for me.” A few moments later I realized that He was helping me do things that I had not been able to do before. I was getting my strength, courage and direction from Him to be able to get through the days. So I said, “OK, whatever You decide, as long as You will be there for me.”
A most precious thing I learned is that Jesus cares so much for little me. I have His full attention, He holds me close and is always showing His love and care for me in many ways throughout the day. I was blown away by the special things He would do for me in those days and months and even now when I need it. And He loves you the same, as if there were no one else to distract Him. You are the apple of His eye~!
As far as anger goes, I was not angry at God. God loves our children more than we do. I remember sitting here at camp meeting pregnant with Seth and being profoundly moved, realizing that Jesus died for this child that I had yet to see or hold. The Lord knows best and He is always there for us in what He allows. The lessons I learned from God in those days were enough to give me courage in the hard things of life that I have encountered since: God not only hears each prayer we pray, but also does things to answer that prayer, that He could not do otherwise.
But I was angry. I was very upset because people go through stuff down here without Jesus, and yes it is a bitter, but sweet road to travel with Him. Without Him is devastation and as one person who has worked with such people told me, NOT a pretty picture. I was angry because we Christians are not doing what we could be doing to share Jesus with a suffering world. Even if there were no heaven or eternal life, people need Jesus here and now!!!!
Last night I found a message on my FB from A lady whom I knew a little when she lived in NY years ago. I reconnected with her as I had heard that her twenty-some year old son recently died in a hiking accident. What she wrote expressed her feelings and wonderings about when the awful suffering and the ups and downs would end. This is what I wrote to her:
“Dear fellow mother/sister in suffering, It is soooo hard. But the best thing I found was feeling that I was in God's hands and that He knew all about [what happened], including what I was going through. When I am overwhelmed I flee to the Rock and ask Him to put His thoughts into my mind, or, [I just stop thinking] and rest in Him. Many times when I would call out to Him in my distress, He would do something really special to encourage me. He is so good, all of the time and He is too wise to be mistaken about what He allows. But He is with us in our pain. You have entered into Christ's sufferings. It will not always be so hard, but you may wish later on, when things are easier, for God to be able to have your attention so readily as He does right now. ♥ & prayers. Wish I could hug you tight, but know that He is."