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I Didn’t Choose To Lose My Son: Struggle Isn’t Always Chosen

struggle isn't always chosen

People say that pain is inevitable and struggle is chosen. I don’t agree. I know there’s been plenty of struggle in my life I haven’t chosen. Dealing with pain in a positive manner so we can eliminate struggle completely sounds like a great idea. That’s where it stops. I know, I would have done it by now. The permanent stronghold of pain, some would say, struggle: doesn’t have to be permanent. It also doesn’t have to be so negative because it is so valuable. Eliminating it: complete hogwash (though I can’t say I haven’t thought about how wonderful that would be).  Yes, I realize how contradictory it all sounds.

And, it’s something we don’t want to talk about. Why would anyone choose pain? Some do, yes. Struggle isn’t always chosen. So, how can we diminish these things?

Struggle Isn’t Always Chosen?

Struggle is our opportunity to wrestle with realities we just don’t, when we have a bruised knee or a broken bone. Pain doesn’t always force hard questions. 

When I lost my son I felt a grief I didn’t know I could feel.  The pain was deep, but I struggled hard to come out of it. It wasn’t a choice I was making. I wanted to get back to life, be happy and have my son back too. But, my emotions were raw. Acknowledging them so I could heal meant looking at the ugly elephant in the room. It meant struggling.  It meant doing what others told me I should not. 

“Get back to life, suck it up,” I was told. But, these were the words of people in pain too, I realized later.  Often, they were words from others who had not faced their own elephants. To allow the process of struggle to teach you and come out the other side a better human is to engage the process of healing. To tell yourself the truth about yourself. Because, that’s what struggle is: It’s an attempt to get free. If anyone tells you to avoid struggle – RUN!

A wise friend told us at that moment to let ourselves take the time we needed to grieve. It was the best thing we could have done. It set us free from long-term attachment to grief. 

Generally, when I think of Eben, I’m able to laugh now. I love the time I spent with him, but I could not have imagined seeing him again. 

FAST FORWARD: I didn’t choose struggle

It has been 13 years now since Eben’s birth, however, His death was the struggle I didn’t choose. Once I was in it, however I chose to mourn … to address his exit and my great grief.

I had a seizure recently. I have Epilepsy. 1 in 26 people do and mine has reached the point where the seizures don’t stop without intervention. Except, Doctors often don’t believe I am having them. It’s a dangerous situation. I was seizing for up to 16 hours recently due to doctors’ disbelief in my husbands word about my condition. 

I was not conscious of this world in any way when I saw my son, Eben. Yes, you read that right … saw my son, Eben.

It felt like I was walking through my cells. The colors were amazing. I can’t really describe them, except to say check out all the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen and magnify them. That’s where I was. 

Suddenly all these kids were walking toward me. There was a leader in the group and he was pointing toward the boy in the middle with his finger saying, “It’s Eben! It’s Eben!”

I could read his lips clearly, but heard no sound.

I could see a head full of bright red hair. Next to him, a boy with brown hair. They both seemed shy as if they were nervous to meet me. They were holding each other close. It felt like there was a wall of glass in front of us. Suddenly, they began to move away from me.

I knew I had one chance to say something. Lifting my hand in the air I spread my fingers into the sign well known for I love you. I said as clearly as I knew how: “I love you Eben.” The whole group was smiling in a way I’ve never experienced before.  Their joy was palpable.

They were hugging each other now, fading away in joy. The life I had felt began to fade, but I knew my son had a posse. I had never been more secure as a mother.


I returned to hallucinations. This space felt different.  Hallucinations do not feel joyful or secure. Glitter lined my walls and I felt like I was floating. I did not understand what was happening. There was nothing secure in that moment for me. I felt chaos.

Many would say it’s all in my head. Go ahead. That’s my life story. Doctors have been telling me this for years. I’m sharing this with you because perhaps one of you needs to know that your struggle isn’t useless and wasted. God wants to walk with you and he’ll meet you in the mess.

You might not have chosen this. However, you can decide how you’re going to exist in it. Plus, you can look for the gifts. They will come. Yes, they will come.

What have you been learning through your struggle? Please comment. I’d love to hear your story.

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We all struggle and sometimes it seems like it's never going to end. It's easy to get used to our new normal and feel this is just how life is. I'm here to tell you life can be different ... if you want it to be. Do you want to step into healing and wholeness? 


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