It’s the day before the eighteen month milestone following the accident of my forever five year old son, James. Everyone thinks they can ‘imagine’ what it would be like to lose a child but I can promise you that reality always takes on a foreign form. In my mind I was sure I would shrivel up and wither away if I lost any of my children. I was so sure I would simply stop existing. I would be lying if I said I didn’t FEEL those things and even beg God for them but no matter how much I wanted it to happen it wasn’t going to. Fortunately, God was able to show me fairly early on that I had a choice to make: I could either force myself to die or force myself to live. Either way, I had to choose it. In God’s perfect timing, at the time of the accident I found myself 13 weeks pregnant with a child I wasn’t planning to conceive so soon after giving birth to my then nine month old. It wasn’t fair to this child to harm myself and him in the process. It also wasn’t fair to my four living children, the oldest of which would be nine years old just two weeks after her little brother drowned. My love for one child couldn’t surpass my love for them all. Besides, these were going to need me a lot more than James would now. Do you have any idea how much guilt comes along with that decision in a grieving mother’s heart? That was just one of many guilt ridden hurdles I would have to face in my journey. Guilt has become the new constant in my life, as I’m sure any grieving mother can understand. The ‘shoulda, coulda, coulda, why-didn’t-I, If-only, what-if’ barrage of heavy artillery is enough to mutilate the strongest of mental armor. This is why it is imperative that you remind yourself, minute by minute sometimes, what God’s word says about your situation. In this case, God‘s word promises me that we are eternal beings, promised eternal life and having a temporary Earth experience. We don’t grieve as the world does that has ‘no hope’ for an eternal future with their loved ones who have passed. We’re promised that one day we will be together again. After that? Who knows? That’s a new topic entirely but at least we can be comforted by the fact that there is, in fact, an ‘after that’. In the meantime, eighteen months later, I find that I still have to remind myself daily, even minute to minute some days, that there IS hope for the future and a powerful force of forgiveness, mercy, grace and love that is more than able to fend off whatever army of guilt Satan throws your way – if you’re brave enough to surrender to it.