Recently, on a closed page for a bereavement support group, I shared the story of The Accident. One gal commented how sorry she was for my loss. I answered, “Thank you. The early days of this journey were excruciating! Over time, and by doing the next right thing, I have found healing, peace, and joy in Christ.”
Another gal asked, “What do you consider to be the Next Right Thing?”
That’s a great question! What is the Next Right Thing?
When dealing with grief, I believe the answer will vary according to the individual and the situation. The answer also changes daily, and it changes as we heal. That is why I said, “The NEXT Right Thing” rather than “THE Right Thing.” What was right for me two years ago is not the Next Right Thing for me today.
My son was twenty and we had a great relationship. He was killed instantly in a wreck four hours from our home. The Next Right Thing for me was and is very different from that for a mom who has cared for a young child with cancer or other illness for years, or a dad who was estranged from his forty-year-old daughter when she took her own life, or the parents faced with decisions regarding a child on life-support. I have a deep faith in Christ. My faith will cause me to do things differently than a parent who does not believe in Christ. I have a solid marriage that has lasted more than thirty-two years. The Next Right Thing will be different for a single mom or a dad going through a divorce when his child died.
We must all strive for wisdom to know what the Next Right Thing is for each of us. I have to seek wisdom about what I should do today without condemning myself for mistakes made yesterday.
There were times when the Next Right Thing was for me to sit and feel the pain and cry. Other times I needed to get up, wipe my eyes, and put the needs of my family first.
A few times, the Next Right Thing was to do what I had committed to do before The Accident, including a couple of triathlons with my husband in the months after The Accident. I cried most of the bike ride during one, but those tears helped me heal. Other times, I said “No” to invitations to participate in such activities.
My son was a dancer and actor. Early on, I could not go to shows in which he had acted during high school. I didn’t think I could go back into the theater after the memorial service, but the cast of West Side Story included many of his close friends. They were in rehearsals when The Accident happened. I went to that show. I’m glad I did, though it was hard. Afterwards, I hugged the necks of the cast members and cried with many of them. There have only been a couple of shows he had done that I have attended in these two years. It is too painful and I love my memories of Andrew in those shows.
In October of 2013, the Next Right Thing was to start a blog. This summer, Next Right Thing was to put my thoughts into two books. At times, the Next Right Thing is to simply read posts in the support groups to which I belong without comment. Other times I feel that I should comment on a particular post.
Some months the Next Right Thing is to travel with Ron. Other times I need to stay home and take of myself and our property.
Four of our children lived at home until about a year after the accident. It was a bit lonely for me those next few months when Ron had to travel. We now have a college gal who is paying her own way through school living with us. The Next Right Thing was to let her stay here at no charge, in part, so that I wouldn’t be alone so much when my husband travels without me.
This past week, two more folks moved in with us. It was the Next Right Thing to do.
Each of us has things that we will find too difficult. That’s okay. Don’t do those things. We will also each find things that challenge us but which we should do. Doing some hard things can help us grow and heal.
Tonight, the Next Right Thing for me is to watch Monday Night Football with my husband and our new housemates! I’m thinking the Next Right Thing may include some ice cream as well.