Learning to let go after the loss of a child is one of the hardest things in life you’ll ever have to do. Letting go seems unnatural to a parent/grandparent because a child is supposed to outlive you not the other way around, right?
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That being said, I’m so thankful, to Kim Peacock, the author of Victorius Heart for sharing her story on ways of learning to let go after the loss of a child. This is a continuation of our Hope for Grief: A Grief and Loss Collaboration Series and the following is her story.
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- 1 What is The Process of letting Go after the loss of a child?
- 1.1 grasp The News on the Loss of a Child
- 1.2 Deal with the Acceptance and Letting Go
- 1.3 Acceptance and letting go of Material Things
- 1.4 Don’t compare the Expectations of Others over the loss of a child
- 1.5 Letting Go leads you to Focus on other Dreams
- 1.6 Understand that learning to Let Go is a Slow Process
- 2 In Closing on Learning to Let Go After the Loss of a Child
What is The Process of letting Go after the loss of a child?
I’ve always had a hard time letting go of things. Not necessarily because of the material/financial value, but because my heart hates the feeling of change. Letting go feels unnatural and painful, like ripping out part of my heart.
After we witnessed the accident that took our lost oldest daughter Nicole’s life, I learned rather quickly that there are times of forced letting go and times that I had to create a letting go process to help me navigate the complexity of grief.
grasp The News on the Loss of a Child
The doctor told us bluntly that she had died at the beach. The impossible had happened, and the first of many forced “Letting Go’s” occurred. Everything felt wrong, and I struggled to get my footing under the crushing heartbreak I felt.
I describe what took place in my book Victorious Heart. You’ll find a link at the bottom of the post to learn more.
As we walked out of the hospital, I was overwhelmed with two thoughts.
First, it was astonishing to me that everything outside the hospital looked so normal, so unchanged, while everything had drastically changed within our lives.
- Shouldn’t the world have stopped?
- Or at least gotten a little darker?
The second thought was a question…
How in the world was I going to leave my girl behind at the hospital? I tried to remind myself that “she” wasn’t there, that her soul was with the Lord.
However, that little body had been with me for seventeen years. She was formed within my own body and had been by my side ever since. She was more like me than anyone in the world. How could I possibly leave her there?
It did not feel right and I couldn’t get over the feeling I was abandoning her. As our family walked out to our truck, I had difficulty putting one foot in front of the other.
I literally had to will my feet to move away from the hospital and to the truck. Once inside, we began that excruciating long drive home.
Deal with the Acceptance and Letting Go
Because Nicole was no longer with us physically, I desired to hold on to every material item she owned or anyone who knew and loved her. My sorrow caused me to cling to anything tangible in order to feel close to her.
This is a normal response to loss, but it was vital for me to understand that I would never lose the essential part of my relationship with Nicole.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
Therefore because Nicole knew the Lord, I will see her again. I don’t have to let go of that part of her. But still, grief is the result of the separation here on earth.
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Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
When Nicole went to be with the Lord, I was forced to let go of a beautiful part of me. On this side of Heaven, I would not be able to look into her sparkly, ocean blue eyes or hear her mischievous giggle.
I wouldn’t be able to watch her fiercely protect her siblings and stand up for those who were struggling. There were many parts of her physical existence that were taken away from us and we had no choice.
However, there were areas in which we did have a choice. Some demanded a decision, so I had to gather the courage to create a letting go process.
Acceptance and letting go of Material Things
Our physical world is in a constant state of decomposition and regeneration. Every material thing will eventually degrade and leave space for the new.
I knew that was a natural part of life but didn’t want to let go of one more thing after Nicole went to Heaven. I felt like I could not handle one more change.
However, my desire to hold onto anything remotely connected to Nicole weighed me down. It caused extreme pressure on not just me, but our whole family.
Lisa and Nicole had shared a room, a room that held their precious memories. The thought of changing it broke my heart, but it was unfair for me to ask Lisa to live in a room that had become a shrine to Nicole.
We decided to make a change, to let go of the room and what it had become. We took pictures of every square inch and began the painful task of deciding what to do with Nicole’s belongings.
We gave some items away to those who loved her, then lovingly packed everything else into crates so Lisa could establish a new space in which she could heal.
When going through this process, it is crucial to take a little at a time if you are able. After we packed a large portion of Nicole’s belongings in crates, we put the crates in storage.
Over the years, I’ve gone through most of the crates slowly, deciding what to keep, what to give away, and what to donate. Some items just needed to be thrown away.
Time has helped bring clarity to these painful decisions. There are many things I leave out and easily accessible that allow me to feel close to Nicole. I have some of her sweatshirts that I wear regularly. My sister and a friend made me beautiful quilts out of her clothes.
Don’t compare the Expectations of Others over the loss of a child
I have beautiful friends and family who have made sure of that.) That sometimes caused me to place unfair expectations on Nicole’s siblings and friends.
I desperately wanted them to live free, happy lives and fulfill their greatest potential. The problem was that it wasn’t necessarily the goals I wanted to be fulfilled.
They were the expectations I placed upon them. I wanted to save each one of them from pain and disappointment. But despite my best intentions, I couldn’t do that for them.
Every time I tried to rescue and fix someone, I stunted them. It wasn’t my place to control the outcomes and journey of their lives. That was God’s job.
It’s hard to love 100% and still hold on loosely. As I learned that particular lesson, I realized something. When I let go of the expectations I had for Nicole’s siblings and friends, I was able to see a future for my own life.
God had plans and a purpose for me, but I was too distracted to notice it as long as I focused on what I thought everyone else should be doing.
Letting Go leads you to Focus on other Dreams
Going home after Nicole’s accident was extremely painful. Our house was a reminder of life with our family of six, who now was a family of five.
Walking through the door of our home would scream the brutal reality of unfinished projects, unfinished dreams, and, to our minds, an unfinished life.
We had to wade through our plans as a family surrounding Nicole’s upcoming graduation, horses, future marriage, and maybe even grandchildren.
Every time one of her friends would advance in a horse show to the next level, graduate high school, get married or eventually have children, our hearts would rejoice with them, but also break.
The bittersweet reality that their lives went on while Nicole’s did not was painful. It still is sometimes. That is the reality of losing a child. Time stands still for us while it moves forward with others.
We had to find a balance in the letting-go process that would allow us to be happy for those who knew Nicole and honor her memory.
Realizing the reminding ourselves that those earthly dreams were sweet and good while she was here, but her reality in Heaven is much more.
Understand that learning to Let Go is a Slow Process
The Letting Go process has been gradual. As a parent who’s lost a child, you don’t entirely “Let go” of your child who has gone before you. They will always be a part of your heart.
On the contrary, it is not a betrayal to their memory to let go of what may be hindering you from living your life well. Everyone is different and heals in unique ways, so it is important to create space for your own heart to heal.
Please don’t allow the expectations of others or our culture to define what your letting-go process should look like.
On the other hand, it is equally harmful to avoid making decisions indefinitely in the hopes of avoiding pain. It will hurt, and that’s okay. That is part of this process.
I encourage you to take small areas and make attainable goals in creating a letting-go process for yourself. If you have put expectations on those grieving with you, please remember their hearts are broken too.
They will have to navigate their grief in a way that brings healing to their hearts. It is not your job to fix them; just love them. Letting go doesn’t mean you forget your sweet child; you honor their memory by living your life well.
In Closing on Learning to Let Go After the Loss of a Child
What did you think of Kim’s beautiful story? I love the way she shared her story and poured out her heart on the ways of learning to let go after the loss of a child.
I can’t believe we’re almost finished with our Hope for Grief: A Grief and Loss Collaboration Series. We have just 4 weeks left and I sincerely hope and pray this series has been a blessing for you and helped you through your grieving process.
My name is Kim Peacock. God has rescued me from myself more times than I can count, and I’m so thankful for His infinite grace and mercy in my life.
My husband Larry and I have six amazingly, unique kids who have brought beautiful color to our lives. Some of those kids are now gifting us with grandkids, who have us completely wrapped around their little fingers.
In 1998 our oldest daughter Nicole was killed in a tragic off-roading accident. When Nicole went to Heaven, darkness invaded our world, and we wondered if our family would survive the crushing pain of grief.
As we grappled through our sorrow, we learned how to live in the “new normal” of life without Nicole. It was in that journey that God gave me the passion for living Victoriously in grief and helping others to do the same.
We were high desert dwellers in Southern California for most of our lives. I loved the stark beauty of the desert and felt at peace when I was able to be in its wide-open expanse.
However, a few years ago, we felt the tug on our hearts to leave the familiar and move to the faraway land of Tennessee. We settled in a log house, surrounded by woods in Mt. Juliet, TN.
It was hard to move away from all we had ever known. It was hard to leave the home where our memories were made and the place where Nicole’s earthly body now laid. But God never calls us without a plan.
The blessings of the move to Tennessee have been more than I could have asked or imagined. There is a different kind of beauty, a different kind of nature to wrap myself in, and a different kind of healing that continues in my soul. Wildvictoriousheart.com