In order to be a warrior through grief, it’s important to know who God is and how He has planned to ease your pain.
As I look back at my life, I see Chris’s death as an amputation. When Chris and I were married, two became one. I loved him more than I could imagine loving another person. He was unique, and an answer to prayer. Perhaps more importantly, he was the answer I didn’t even know how to pray for. I left my prayer open ended, and God delivered something, someone, I could not have dreamed up. He was what I needed to grow into who I have become.
This is why, for me, Chris’s death was an amputation. As I look back, I see that God did not want this. He also could not prevent it if He was to keep His own promise of giving all of us free will. Free will is for those who choose evil as much as it is for those who make choices to do good in the world.
Imagine your child (or a young loved one who you adore) having a health issue. The doctor tells you, “We will have to amputate the leg.” You cannot stop it, the amputation is happening. What is the most loving thing you can do for this young person who you adore? Will you tell them everything they can expect in a flood of information with all of the answers to questions they don’t even know to ask? Of course not. Will you ignore it completely and figure they will deal with it when the shock of the actual day arrives? Absolutely not.
I imagine, like me, you would gently start to prepare the child. If you had time, you would give bits of information first, helping them see some things differently without addressing the amputation directly. You might make sure they have seen other examples of people who have persevered through their own amputation in a casual way that lets them absorb it before having to take it all in with the fear of knowing that will soon be them. You would likely get to know some people who had similar amputations and have them ready as a resource for after the amputation.
As the date came closer, you would start to tell the child they are strong enough for anything that comes their way. They are strong enough because they are not alone, and you will not leave them. You would prepare the child when it was time, with information that didn’t overwhelm, but was just enough to help them fear as little as possible, and enough so that they weren’t completely unaware of this type of thing, this amputation existing in the world.
You would be with them during the amputation with overwhelming love and support. You would give as much as they wanted to accept, and if they felt they needed space and were angry, you would know the anger wasn’t really about you, it was about their pain and you would love them, waiting for the time when they could see your love was steady and never left.
After the amputation, if you are like me, you would give it some time and when the time was right you would say, “My love, this amputation does NOT define you. You are strong. You are capable. Let’s go out and show the world how there is no amputation that can stop you from living, and finding a new way of experiencing joy. You are a warrior!”
Understandably, this child you love so dearly, would have those moments of breaking down. Grieving the loss of life the way they enjoyed living it with their leg in tact. You would hold them in their pain. When the days were really, really brutally hard, you would tell them, “Rest. I will take care of anything that needs tending to while you sleep. I will leave the things that will be good for you to take care of when you are well enough.” You would leave the responsibilities because you would know the best life is a life where the child has purpose and a reason to keep getting up. You would know the child is forever changed. And, you would want them to know they will be stronger for having gone through it. You would tell them about the ways they can help others when they have healed enough to articulate their pain and their experience.
This is how I see God, the ultimate loving parent, handling the amputation in my life. This is how I see God, your ultimate and perfect parent, handling the amputations in your life. He knows what is to come. He will prepare you. He has prepared you. He has a plan for the amputation. He has a plan for the aftermath. He has introduced and exposed you to people already. He has arranged for the people you will need afterward. He understands your grief. He understands your anger. He is patient when it is misdirected at Him. He LOVES YOU every step of the way.
Talk to God. Like every loving parent, He longs for those conversations that are imperfect and raw. The first step to being a warrior in grief, is accepting that God is your loving parent. He sees you. He has prepared you. He knows you will need rest. He is working on your behalf while you sleep. He will not enable you for victimhood. He will help you get stronger through it.
He wants you to have your time to work through things and He wants you to go out and show the world that you are stronger than they thought…stronger than you thought. You are changed, and you are a better, stronger warrior for having survived it. You will be the new example the other children of God will need to know survived the pain.
There is no new story under the sun. My friend Kelly lost her husband after they survived war and a serious injury requiring a whole new way of living. They rose, he rose to new heights only to lose his life to a perfect storm of human flaws. Kelly was part of God’s plan for me, and I am passing her wisdom on to you. Perhaps Kelly is part of God’s plan for you or someone you love. She was part of God’s plan for me. She shared this wisdom with me, and I am sharing it with you. God, the ultimate loving parent, the perfect parent, knows your pain. “I do not believe God wanted this. I believe God was crying with me and I believe He is crying with you.” He has a plan, warrior. You will get through this. You will be stronger. If you choose to, you will know your ultimate parent better and you will see His love in ways you never knew He could and would love you. If you choose to, you will know more about who God is and how He plans ahead to ease your pain. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Taya thanks for what you wrote. Your words means so much to me and to many people. I have grown to love the movie American Sniper so much and I do thank you for Chris’s service for our country and for giving his life. I really admire Chris for him being in Seals and I read his book and your book. I look for ways how to put some of the Seals saying into practice and how to allow my life to be just like the Seals. Your awesome.Daniel Barton
Thank you Taya as always your experience and ultimately your strength has prepared me for this awful journey as a new widow. I know God has made you and instrument of his peace, love and inspiration. I have never known pain this brutal but I know others carry heavier burdens. Thank you for encouraging my part as an army of warriors.
I had gone through a tough time and was angry. Gradually, I realized I failed God because I blamed him, but now I’ve gone back to him because like you, I realized God did not cause the terrible illness of a loved one. Your blog explained things for me and confirmed what I’ve come to realize. I’ve followed your story and always wondered how could anyone cope with the tragedy you’ve been through? Now I know.
i dont know Taya. Im so angry at God right now for allowing something so precious to me to be taken. Im wondering if I will come out of it intact.
This was exactly what I needed to read. So much of this is my experience of how God helps us too. Your words are true wisdom, and helpful. Thank you!
Inspirational! I will read it again because I’m sure I missed some wisdom. Thank you. It’s been so difficult living with this huge amputation for 17 years. I thought I’d be so much more adapted by now.
Thank you Taya for writing a beautiful story. Grief has so many components to it. I’m not sure what stage I’m at but everyday I try to become stronger because of it. God bless you. You truly are an inspiration.
Beautifully and eloquently written, from a beautiful and eloquent – and also hilarious- soul :)