Written by: Stephanie Petska
“Death can leave a devastating path of destruction, yet out of its wreckage can erect a beautiful promise of hope.” – Stephanie Petska
In the waking hours after my son Braden’s death, I questioned where God was that night and where he was in the days and weeks to follow? What I didn’t know at the time was that God was indeed present in the love, action, and support of the people surrounding me.
One of the most difficult transitions in my time of grief was returning back to work. After being away for five months, I had to manage the impossible task of teaching without tears. From awkward silence in the hallways to stuffing my grief in the classroom, nothing about this new life felt comfortable, natural, or manageable. My heart was speaking a language nobody could understand, and I was fighting to maintain the last little grip I had on life.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4
Not too long after I returned to work, a group of colleagues, who called themselves the “Tommy Group,” came to my aide and rescue. Every Monday for two years, I was anonymously greeted by a gift or note of encouragement to help me embrace the week ahead.
From coffee, plants, candy, and spiritual trinkets to Braden-inspired jewelry, every gift was truly a treasure. Tears still flow reminiscing of the generosity I was blessed to receive.
God placed these women in my life to rescue me from the hollows of my grief. Because of their kindness, new life began to rise from my smoldering ashes of death, and rays of hope started to pierce the all-consuming darkness.
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” Isaiah 9:2
Looking back on those years, I remember longing to feel a sense of normalcy, one that would bypass the void death left behind. I needed guidance, for someone to take my hand and lead me up and out of the deepest valley I would journey. These friends were that guidance, the hand of God – my comfort, my constant, and the promise that He would never leave me or forsake me.
“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-11