“When I lost my mother to suicide, I would never have expected how angry I’d become or how shameful I’d feel about it,” said Aaron Duncan “She had attempted to take her life many times before. In some odd way, I had always thought I could be enough to make her to want to live. When she died, I withdrew from others. Anger led me to lash out at those who cared about me.
“I felt the world was judging me for not being enough for my mother, and I was furious at her for giving up. So I began drinking heavily to dull the crazy emotions I was experiencing. I was angry at the Lord and wondered how I could love a God who had left me motherless?
“I discovered later that the Lord had been there all along. While it wasn’t His plan for my mom to take her life, there was, nevertheless, purpose in my pain.
“My wife Caroline and I found out about Watermark and made this our church home. We stayed on the fringes for a time and kept living on our terms. But God loved us too much to allow us stay in one place. As we plugged in here, God blessed us with amazing relationships with other believers and opportunities to serve.
“I got involved with Watermark’s grief recovery ministry. I learned about the secondary losses that happen when you lose a loved one – things like companionship, financial security and unrealized dreams. While life without my mother was moving forward, I was still resentful about all the milestones and memories she and my wife and daughter and I would miss making together. My anger was incom- patible with the man I knew God was calling me to be.
“The proverbial light went on in my mind a couple of years ago. I heard a message at Watermark on forgiveness. It was based on Matthew 18 and the parable of the servant who owed a debt he could never pay. That scripture broke me. How could I accept forgiveness from God and not offer the same to my mom? While it was not her right to choose when her life ended, God’s promise was all that mattered: ‘God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).
“It was a turning point for me. By laying down the burden of my bitterness, I was now free to celebrate the things I appreciated about my mother. I found that I even had room in my heart to empathize with others who were dealing with brokenness.
“That’s when God tapped me on the shoulder about serving with GriefShare, Watermark’s Christ-centered grief recovery ministry. I totally dug my heels in at first. But by that point I learned I could trust the Lord. I accepted the call, despite my anxiety and my desire to avoid having to journey back into that painful chapter of my life.
“This is when I discovered part of the purpose in my pain. My pain would never be wasted if I entrusted it to God and waited expectantly for Him to show me how He wanted to use it.
“God has blessed me with friendships I will cherish for the rest of my life – both within the leadership group as well as with people in GriefShare. God has refined me and enlarged my capacity for service, empathy, joy and compassion. I’ve learned more of the promises from His word and gained a solid foundation for continuing to process the grief of losing my mother.
“This foundation would turn out to be more of a blessing than I could have anticipated. Last fall, Caroline and I lived through a series of trials and losses. Years earlier, I would have scrambled for solace in alcohol, refused the comfort of those around me, and raged at God. Only by God’s grace, I turned instead to Scripture and His people. God helped me to see these events as part of His perfect plan to refine my faith, so that it, ‘being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ (1 Peter 1:7)
“Through my serving in grief recovery, I’ve been stretched in the way I parent, the way I love Caroline, the way I serve God’s flock, and how I live in community. On the surface, I’m a guy who has been grieving the death of his mother. But my journey hasn’t been about death. Because of Jesus, it’s about life.”
Tuesday mornings starting September 10 • 9:15 am
MEN & WOMEN
Tuesday evenings starting September 10 • 6:30 pm
If you have dealt with the loss of a loved one, no matter
how long ago it happened, you can experience joy again. We’ll examine what God’s Word says about death, hope,
joy and heaven.
Register at Watermark.org/events.
Childcare is available for the evening class.