It’s Been 4 Years Since I Lost My Son Zayne
Today is February 8th, 2020 and it is the 4-year anniversary of the worse day of my adult life.
4 years ago today on Feb 8th 2016 my 17-year-old son Zayne passed away.
In addition to lots of crying, I did some writing today and put down some of the thoughts I have been having the past few days as I have been reflecting on Zayne’s passing.
Here is what has been in my heart the past few days:
I am A Different Person Now and I am Still Me
Losing my son Zayne has impacted who I am today more than any other event in my adult life has.
On one hand I am still me, and on the other hand I am a different person entirely.
If you have suffered a brutal loss I am pretty sure you know what I am talking about.
For me all of this “becoming more of who I am” is still unfolding.
I am so grateful to my wife Karyn. She is very wise & very insightful, and she is so good at encouraging me to fully be me and to peacefully own who I am.
I feel I owe to Zayne to be who I really am, and to fully own what it means to be me. I have made good progress toward that end, and I am going to press on with becoming more of who I am.
Just Yesterday & Forever Ago
The harrowing evening 4 years ago when Zayne passed feels like just yesterday, and at the same time it also feels like a forever ago.
I can’t explain this paradox, but it is very real for me.
You Can Heal From Your Brutal Losses
Just as paradoxically – I have healed an incredible amount from that gut wrenching loss & I still have a cavernous excruciating ache in my heart.
To this day – on the tender days – that cavernous excruciating ache in my heart brings me to tears at the drop of hat.
Late on the evening of Feb 13, 2016 following Zayne’s memorial service I committed to *intentionally and diligently grieve for a year and that at the 1-year anniversary of Zayne’s passing I would spread his ashes on the beach.
Please Note – We did spread Zayne’s ashes on Feb 8, 2017 at the Oregon Coast at Tunnel Beach in Oceanside, Oregon.
*I said intentionally and diligently because some people who experience brutal losses stuff their grief and avoid it.
That night – Feb 13, 2016 I knew that grieving is like going to the bathroom – when you don’t do it – bad things happen.
I also knew that those who grieve well live well and that grieving is how we heal.
I owed it to Zayne to do the work of grieving & healing – he would have wanted that.
The more I leaned into my grieving, the more I healed.
Back In 2016, the year Zayne passed, almost every day was one of those tearful tender days.
Because I did that grieving work the tender days are thankfully, no longer every day, and they are spaced out much further apart.
Cherish The Time You Get With Those You Love
The people you love are going to die. I promise you that. Cherish the time you get with them.
You never know when will lose someone you love. It can happen at any time.
I truly wish I could put some candy & nuts & fruitcake around this gut wrenching reality and soften this terrible truth…
However this is a truth we desperately love to ignore, and maybe it’s best to be punched in the gut with the brutal reality of it.
If You Have Lost a Child I am Here For You
Some of you reading these words have just lost a child.
You are welcome to reach out to me. I know the hell you are going through.
These days parents who have just lost a child reach out to me on a regular basis.
One of the positives (a terrible word to us here – I know) that has come out of the devastation of losing my son Zayne & doing my grieving work, is that I am better able to care for those who have endured an experience that is so horrifying we don’t name it …
If you lose your parents you are an orphan…
If you lose your spouse you are a widow or widower…
If you have lost a child… there is no name for it.
Something only a few of you reading this know – for about ten years I worked full-time as a pastor caring for people’s hearts. For me, providing pastoral care to those who were hurting was one of the very best parts of being a full-time pastor.
That being said – there are, still to this day, people I provide pastoral care to, and my having a different occupation never removed my pastoral vocation, and I am still very much in possession of my pastoral heart that cares deeply for those who are wounded, and live with ongoing heartache.
These days caring for those who have lost a child is one of the small handful of ways I live out my pastoral vocation.
I know, I know, some of you are very confused right now – I unashamedly cuss when I deem it appropriate, and I love cocktails – gin especially, and yet here I am I talking about my pastoral calling.
If you don’t like it, talk to God not me.
Just so we are clear – I have a very private, none of your business, not going to talk with you about it, Jesus centric faith.
For those who are wondering – I am speaking of the Jesus found in Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, and whether you like it or not Jesus is quite fond of me.
Also – these days I myself am generally not too fond of most Christians, and much of the culture in American Christianity brings me consternation. As you can likely tell there is a lot of heartache in my past related to experiences I have had with Christians.
I generally prefer to quietly, behind the scenes, pastorally care for those who unashamedly cuss when they deem it appropriate, and who love craft beer, or good wine, or cocktails made with craft spirits.
Oh and hurting pastors, I seem to do very well caring for hurting pastors. My heart is moved by those who are, or who have been pastors who are struggling. They often seem to find their way to me.
Grieving Helped Me Get My Creative Energy Back
One of the consequences that Zayne’s passing had on me was that I lost much of the creative energy I had.
It was not until the fall of 2019 that I got back to having amount of creative energy I had before Zayne passed.
Don’t get me wrong, following Zayne’s passing I was still creative, it’s just that I would exert a small amount of creative energy and then be exhausted.
It feels embarrassing to admit that it took me about 3 years and six months to get my creative energy restored to the level it was at before Zayne passed.
It scares me to think what would have had happened if I had not fully leaned into intentionally and diligently doing my grieve work.
Know this – loss effects everyone differently, for a while I lost most of my creative energy. Conversely, in some respects, losing his brother Zayne fueled Zac Shomler’s creative energy.
I Miss My Son
Lastly – it’s been 4 years since the worse day of my adult life.
It’s been 4 years since I lost my son – Zayne Steven Shomler and I desperately miss him. I miss his wit, his bright smile, his tender heart, and the charming way he had about him.
I miss you Zayne. I look forward to the day when I see you again.
That’s all I have for now,