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  • Writer's pictureCarole J. Sluski

How I Accept My Faith As A Gift From God

Structure is like painting on a canvas using harmony with your choice of colors.

I accept my faith as a gift from God. I keep my memories of Paula alive by thinking of her. Thankfully, my love for her grew, as it should have, had she lived. Jesus died on the cross so all could be saved and none lost. Jesus Christ alone opened the way to eternal life, a gift to all of us if we want it. I opened myself to be free from confinement in how I wanted to spend my time. I prayed to let go of feeling guilty if I wanted to take time out to read a magazine, paint a picture, take a walk, call a friend, take someone to lunch, go to dinner with my husband, write in a notebook, make a floral arrangement, go to visit someone in a nursing home, make a special treat to eat, create a spectacular salad for dinner, ride a bike, exercise, walk the dog, drive the car to “nowhere” or drive the car to the cemetery.

The message I received from Mary was to be kind to myself. Stop feeling like I had to be perfect all day, all day, all day long. Throw guilt out the window. If I feel comfortable and content at the moment, it may be a good time to look at pictures of my children, Ellen and Paula, when they were babies. Memories are good, and they can be part of the healing process. Memories of our children make us realize our love is real for them, and we should be happy we have the opportunity to have this love. God gave it to us.

Here is the pursuit of all the above. My list is all “good” things to do, no matter how you look at it. It is better to look at the things I could do that will reward me after it is done. There should be something good at the end of your activity to show the time spent. Every activity above allowed me a choice of patience, interest, and learning to use time wisely. My point is I learned and benefited something from everything I did. The more I used the creative gifts God gave me, the more satisfied I would be at the end of the activity. Examples are painting a picture, designing a set of earrings, or creating an unusual, tasty salad. This is part of my healing. I did this over and over for thirty years.

My time with friends was special, and even phone time became critical. Mixing with others is human, and having friends is expected and needed for a rounded personality. I tried to know how to relax every day and take a nap if I needed it. I learned that when I was tense, moody, unhappy, or angry, I no longer had any energy or motivation to do what was good for me. I needed to create a structure to have a healthy mental and physical life.

Structure gives you strength.

Structure allows you a certain amount of time for yourself.

Structure permits you to think more clearly.

Structure approves your selection of stepping stones for a better life.

Structure saves you time for new accomplishments.

Structure approves your safe zone for relaxation and enjoyment.

Structure is like painting on a canvas using harmony with your choice of colors. At the beginning of my loss, I found it challenging to be alone. I would wait for Denny to come home from work. I would ask him to sit and talk with me. I would go across the street to my sister’s house, Diane, to sit and talk to her about Paula. Diane was good about it; she listened and gave me advice. I knew what was happening to me. I was going through withdrawal from not being around Paula and not worrying about her anymore. I was severed from human interaction with her. At the same time, I continued to love and miss her—such a heartache, so sad and bewildering. I never knew I could hurt like this. I always wanted to be positive. I discovered if you want to survive the death of your child, tell God how you feel. It is okay to talk to Him from your heart. Find a quiet spot and let it out. That black cloud called depression is terrible. Do whatever it takes to find joy and happiness. Get rid of the black cloud by confronting it head-on.

I did not feel I was wrong to hurt. If I had not hurt, what kind of mother would I be? Hurting is good. It means you are human. Sometimes, you need to have patience and quit beating yourself up. I lived for thirty years after Paula died. It was constant work, work, and more work. Day after day, week after week, month after month, and finally, year after year, I got better. I loved doing good things for others. I loved being around my family. I did my best to take care of my health. Denny and I kept ourselves always busy.

This is not just about me; it is about all of us who have witnessed the severe pain of losing our child. It is about the many ways we miss our child; it is about our hearts and how we can live a life of joy and happiness that God wants for us. Believe, and you shall receive; God is real; Mary is His Mother; Mary wants to be your mentor. We have so much in common with her, such as the ability to make decisions for ourselves, called free will. This is part of the process of surviving the death of your child. If I did not love God, my life would be shallow. Without God, how could I possibly know what love is all about? I believe to love God is to love those who love us. Your love for others will be your medicine as happiness enters your life again. The people who love us are an extension of God’s love. It remains to be very simple. God is love.

If I was asked what the most beneficial creativity I can do to fulfill my time with pleasure is, it is painting. I can get myself lost in time and be involved with beauty in my mind as I paint something meaningful to me. This is what you must do with yourself. I mentioned this subject earlier in my book, and it is so important that I’m touching upon it once again. This healing process can save your life and is considered very important. If it is not painting, experiment with a craft or even music. Get yourself busy! Investigate and find out what makes you happy. This may take time, but that’s okay; it is time well spent because you will be led to do something meaningful for yourself.

I even suggest going back to school no matter what age you are. Get your mind involved and think — this is what you need to do that is positive for yourself. When you think, you put your child’s loss up on a shelf for a short period. This time now is yours without any mental pain of missing your child. This is the process I used to heal, and it worked for me. You must find a purpose to live every day and have something to look forward to. You must stay optimistic that you will smile, laugh and be truly happy again.

Regarding praying to God, when I did pray, I found a type of quiet peace that gave me hope. When I started hoping I’d get better, I discovered a new energy within me that wanted to become alive again. It’s so good to feel like you want to go shopping to buy a new outfit or go to lunch with a friend. This is progress and a good sign that you are healing. You must be strong and keep it up. Don’t throw the towel in and quit. Stay strong and know your life is supposed to be here and you mean something to others and the world. We are all little “dots” or “specks” on this planet and know that this is our little space in the world, and we are going to use it to make ourselves a better person and use our talent because God gave it to us to use. Our child wants this for us, so we must make it happen.

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