Our youngest son, Nathan, nineteen years old, died by suicide August 11, 1996. His death plunged me into a sea of terrifying feelings I never knew existed. I went into therapy and submerged myself in my grief through reading, journaling, telling my story over and over, and crying.
I was raking leaves on a nippy November day 15 months after Nate died and both our dog, Missy, and I were miserable. Missy, because it was cold and damp out and she wanted me to get done with my task, and I, because Nate should have been there to help me and life was just too hard. I began complaining to God what a tiring job grieving was, and couldn't it at least provide lunch and coffee breaks? And the following words formed in my head. Sitting at the kitchen table, the words tumbled out, my "scolding" God. However, when I read it over the next day, I saw how God had been healing my broken heart and in the process, my spirit was developing a wider view of life.
I offer this writing to other grieving people as a gift of hope - hope that you, too, will heal as you do your grief work. Thank you for letting me share it with you.
The Unwanted Job
Ruth Tulloch, November 1997
The job was thrust upon me suddenly, with no forethought, consultation, or preparation.
My position title read, "Mourner".
And once appointed to the position,
no amount of pleading revoked the assignment.
The job description dismally read
No coffee breaks or lunch hours,
no sick days, personal time, or vacations;
total commitment demanded;
How long, I asked, must I labor at this mourning? I get so tired of my daily tasks
looking at photos of Nathan, son of promise and hope;
wandering into his room, fingering his pitifully few possessions;
watching videos to hear his voice and laugh for fear of forgetting him;
mulling over in my mind
the final moments of his life,
the sheriff delivering the numbing news,
his strong, young body lying lifeless,
the final good-bye for now as the casket lid closed;
questioning God - Where were you? Can t I trust you?
and crying ... and crying ... and crying.
As long as you need to, the disquieting answer came. You will know when your work is done.
Until then, you must do the necessary work of mourning in order to heal
allow family and friends to toil along side of you,
spend quiet times,
search your inner being for hidden resources,
ask your questions over and over again,
tell your story repeatedly,
be honest with God, He can take it,
acknowledge your anger ,
be patient with yourself;
and cry ... and cry ... and cry.
It is good I did not know the duration of my tenure. I would have despaired.
But a lifetime of a year has passed, and I find my load has miraculously lightened.
Now I can talk about Nathan without always crying,
look at his pictures and videos without longing to die to be with him,
some of the time control my thoughts, thinking of his death when I want to.
Now I can see beyond my pain to other s needs,
find some hope and purpose for going on living without him,
cry shorter periods without feeling hopeless.
No wages of dollar and cents compensate my grief; they would soon be spent and vanish.
I m paid with a deeper understanding of myself, others, and God
discovery of untapped springs of strength;
amazement at the God-given resiliency of the human spirit;
the value of family and friends who never tire of my story;
letting God be God, because there are not always answers;
believing God collects my tears and mourns along with me;
trusting I can give up my mourning without giving up my memories.
Others tell me this job requires life-long attention; it accepts no resignations.
But I pray the workload continues to ease and that my healing becomes complete.
I go on with this business of life. And I look forward, in due time, to my retirement gift;
Reunion with Nathan in Eternity.
In memory of Nathan Allan Tulloch, May 26, 1977 - August 11, 1996
Copyright 1999 by Ruth Tulloch