Sadness. Frustration. Loneliness. Denial. These are all emotions that I felt after losing my mom when I was 20. She fought a long, hard battle with cancer. There were several ups and downs, but she had a smile on her face more times than not. She carried her cross for 10 years, and even still, Christ’s light shined so brightly within her. Watching her faith grow even stronger during that time has been one of my biggest inspirations while strengthening my own relationship with God.
It was so hard for me to wrap my head around how suddenly her passing came, and how it seemed that many people were aware of my mom’s decline- and I was not. The first couple of years following her death quickly became filled with unhealthy routines, not enough sleep, and surrounding myself with unhelpful distractions. When the feelings would come back, instead of trying to heal and work through my grief, I was finding ways to suppress it and pretend that it was not affecting so many areas of my life. I quickly learned that this suppression was not going to help me get out of this terrible whirlwind- it was only spinning me around faster and faster
Finding a Support System
Surrounding myself with the right people was so important in getting out of this whirlwind that I was in. I once heard someone say, after going through their own grief, that they didn’t feel like they had the support system that everyone said she did. My heart became so heavy when I heard this, because I know exactly what she meant. Having a good support system is something that everyone talks about and discusses the importance of when it comes to trauma, no matter how big or small it may be. I endlessly heard the phrase “I am always here for you!” or “Let me know if you need anything!” But it can be hard to feel this support when it is not followed by any action. My true support system came from the people that dragged me out of bed and brought me to lunch, on a walk, or really encouraged me to talk about my grief and healing.
God used my mom’s faith, love and compassion as part of his plan for me. I have found my true friendships, I have become closer with family, and met some amazing friends and mentors through the church community. The quality time and conversations I have with these people has been so imperative to my healing process. And I realized that the reason I have all these wonderful people around me, is because of my mom’s kindness. Christ’s light was always shining through her. She was always doing things to help other people and put others before herself. Kindness is SO important. My mom lived a life full of all of these things, and I want to have as strong of a relationship with Christ as my mom did. Over the past couple years, as I reflected on my mom’s faith journey and how close she was to Christ even with how sick she was, made me realize that spiritual healing is what I was missing in my journey.
Everything Happens for a Reason
People often say that they believe everything happens for a reason. I do believe that this is true when we place God at the center of everything. If God, my faith, and his plan for me was not at the center of everything, I am not sure that I could find a reason for losing my mom so early in life. But when I think about how much trust my mom had in the Lord, and how bright his light was within her, I know that I can trust God has a plan for all of this, and that he has a reason for everything being the way that it is.
About a year or so ago, I was listening to a talk by Father Mike Schmitz. The theme of this talk was “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?” This is something that so many people say after a trauma or experiencing something that feels unfair. Father Schmitz said that when we lose a family member, or something catastrophic like this happens to someone who did nothing to call it upon them, it is God’s will, but it is not God’s perfect will. He explains that if God could choose for there to be no sickness, loss, or upsetting events in the world, he would. But if he did that, he would also have to take away the free will that we have as humans. He would be controlling our life instead of letting us make decisions for ourselves. If we take a step back and think about our purpose, isn’t the ultimate goal in life to get to heaven? I saw how devoted my mom was to her faith and how important her relationship with Christ was to her. Things don’t always go the way we want them to, but when we trust God, he leads us to something greater. I lost my mom, but she gained heaven and eternal happiness. She lost her pain, and she gained being as close to Jesus as she always wanted to be. And that is where I find my comfort.
Flash forward to today, almost six years later, I am living in Charlotte, have a job that I love, and am planning my wedding with my fiance, Robby, for next May. A few years ago, I was so stuck that I would have never thought it was possible to get out of that rut and find this happiness. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could pick up the phone to call my mom, but I can only hope that she is proud of how far I have come in the last few years.
About the Author
Alexandra Stanley is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Psychology. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and this transition period has given her time to dive into things she is truly passionate about. Having faced her own struggles as a young adult she has embraced the importance of knowing Christ's love for us, and allowing Him to shine and heal us from within. She walks forward believing that God does not give us battles we cannot conquer, and that our "present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Alexandra hopes to combine her education and life experiences in a way that will help point the young women at Healed and Restored towards a realization of Christ's love and healing even in the most difficult times.