Mr. Osteen, you refer to yourself as a Christian pastor. I can tell you that after reading just a few paragraphs of your book, “Your Best Life Now”, I’ve come to realize your life has never been touched by this indescribable, unrelenting grief. It might be easy to fool yourself. To believe your own press. To hold yourself up on your pedestal and preach about how parents are supposed to grieve. If you believe your criticism of grieving parents has anything to do with Christianity you are sadly mistaken.
After reading your thoughts on how long Phil and Judy continued to grieve their only son, I found myself wondering if you had any children. After Googling your name I found that you do have a son, Jonathan and a daughter, Alexandra. Imagine my surprise upon discovering that you were a parent and felt that grief following the loss of a child had a time limit.
You seem to think that grief is nothing more than a mess that must be cleaned up. Or an illness that must be cured and put behind us. Your beliefs on how long grief should last and exactly how grieving parents should “get beyond it” shows the depth of your ignorance.
You judge grieving parents as “liking the attention too much.” Seriously, Mr. Osteen, if we wanted attention there are so many less painful ways to get it. Imagine the attention I received when my husband showed up at the hospital as I was working on a Saturday afternoon to tell me my youngest son was dead. Oh yes, my screams brought massive amounts of attention. Three years later, that scene and his words continue to take my breath away.
Let me try to educate you on what it feels like to bury a child. In the beginning, your mind is filled with disbelief. It shields you from the harsh reality that you now call life. Your brain stays shrouded in a fog so thick that seeing beyond its walls is impossible. Then reality hits like a slap so hard you are left breathless and on your knees.
You sneak into their closet hiding your sobs smelling their clothes praying that comforting scent will last forever. You stare at pictures of smiling faces wishing you could have just one more day. You learn that being alone is better than feeling like a stranger in a room full of people afraid to look your way. Friends have returned to their lives. Back to their living children. Calls and visits cease leaving you alone with your grief.
Time has become your enemy. With each passing year the pain of your loss is multiplied. Holidays and birthdays now come with gut punches. You realize your child is frozen in time. Their place in your home will never be filled as they return home from college or vacation. Your family is forever broken. Family traditions too painful to continue. Your child is dead.
There will be no weddings to celebrate or babies to hold in your arms. There will be no joking about your child getting a gray hair or hitting a milestone birthday. There are no Sunday dinners. Unless you have the stomach to eat while sitting next to their grave.
You see, Mr. Osteen, losing a child is losing your future. Their death changes every aspect of your life. This grief is timeless.
I suggest you hug your children every chance you get. Take hundreds of pictures of their beautiful faces. I’ve read Karma can be a bitch. I’d hate for you to walk in my shoes and be forced to eat your insensitive words.
MaryBeth Cichocki is a registered nurse living in the state of Delaware. She lost her youngest son, Matt, to an overdose of prescription drugs on January 3rd 2015. After his death she was unable to return to her world of taking care of critically ill babies in the N.I.C.U.
She now spends her time advocating and writing about the disease of addiction. She started a blog shortly after Matt died titled Mothers Heart Break, ( mothersheartbreak.com ) which she shares on a Facebook page. She also started a support group for those suffering the loss of a loved one due to the disease of addiction.
MaryBeth has testified in her states Capitol during the Joint Finance Committee hearings, sharing her story of the difficulty she experienced while trying to find comprehensive treatment for her adult son during his addiction. She is working with legislators in her state to make changes in the treatment of addiction. She was involved in the passing of 3 bills in Delaware regarding addiction treatment.
MaryBeth is passionate about saving other mothers from her grief. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and dog rescuer.