Joy is such a simple word. Only three short letters, but for a person who has lost a child it seems like a BIG word with a complex meaning. The meaning I found when I googled it says the word joy: is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. The meaning for joy reminds me of the song, I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart… You probably know that song, it has a catchy tune.

As far as I’m concerned, I can get joy from eating my favorite food, drinking coffee or doing something fun. So I’m not sure this is the correct definition I am looking for. I know joy is an attitude that comes, goes and is not guaranteed. It is something we have a choice every day to create. Joy is a feeling which seems to come in good times more than bad. I think the meaning of joy is the experience of something so fulfilling, vibrant, which may only last for a moment, but brings your inner soul happiness. It is something that not everyone allows themselves to experience. It’s not until you take the time to just be and let God show you it. So why is it so hard to find your joy after child loss?

It seems so easy. But it’s been 4 years in August that I lost my son Tyler in a car accident just a short distance from my home. It was that night that I lost my joy. I can remember being so excited to see him play his first high school football game the following week. He had just turned 15 years old on August 20, 2013, just three short days before the accident. I really thought my life was great to the point that it couldn’t get much better. Well, on August 23, 2013 God had other plans and in 30 minutes from the time he left our home my life had changed. I have never gotten mad at God or anyone. I have thanked him for giving us 15 years with Tyler.

I know God only gives us our children for a period of time and then takes them back.

I remember the feeling of pain, terrible heartache, sadness and emptiness. Some days I feel like I’m drowning in a sea. My head is just bobbing above water and I feel as if I just don’t know what to do. I do have lots of days that are good, happy, plus I am good at putting on a smile even if I don’t feel like it. It is those days that I think I have it all together and then the next minute something reminds me Tyler is gone FOREVER. Life does not wait for a person to get it figured out. I am so thankful, a kind person explained to me how God’s word saves us. God is our life preserver when our life is in troubled waters and we are fighting to not drown. He is the one who comforts and His word is our life preserver. They went on to say the life preserver only works if you put it on before you sink. God will surround you with His love and protect you even if you are unconscious. God’s word keeps us a float no matter the storm in our life. I do feel like I’m swimming through rough water in my life. But I have decided to take that person’s advice and dig deeper into God’s word. I have also made a personal goal to find more joy for me personally. Something no one can give me, something I have to find myself.

There are days I think it would just be easier to give up and not work so hard to find joy. But then there are good days that I can feel God’s hands lifting me up, which are the days I’m around positive people or focused on His scripture. I ran across an article on finding joy in your life and how it also relates to scripture. Here is a part of what Fred Bittner wrote, 10 Things He Learned From Our Bible Verses About Joy.

1. Joy is not an emotion that can be forced, fabricated, or faked.
He said it is normal to not feel joy and it can’t be forced.

2. Joy is not dependent upon our circumstance.
We can be in difficult situations and still experience joy. James 1:2-3

3. Joy is possible when we feel secure in the Lord.

4. Some may think their happiness is in prosperity, believers find joy in the Lord.
He goes on to reference Philippians 4:4-5 “Be full of joy in the Lord always…”

5. Joy comes when we have a clear direction for our life.
He says that we have joy when we have a purpose.

6. Joy comes when we live in God’s presence.
It’s easy in this day and age to think you have joy when you are successful, have money, but true joy is when you spend it in God’s word.

7. Joy comes when we spend our life praising God.
Praise God by singing, clapping and shouting joyful words.

8. Joy comes when we live an honest Biblical life.
When we are honest vs. dishonest which leads to guilt, it brings true joy.

9. Joy comes when we continually praise what God has already done.
Psalm 92:4-5For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!”
Thank God continually for what he has done for us.

10. Joy comes when people see Christ in us and exclude us from their ungodly actions. 
When people don’t want you around because of your faith, it’s because they see Jesus in you. Be happy about that.

I know God does not promise us to have an easy journey, but he does promise to always be with us. He promises us joy in His presence. I think it is so painful when you lose a child that sometimes it’s hard to find anything as joyful as your loved one. I think it takes time, to help heal your heart. However, I don’t think the hole in our heart will ever be closed. I believe God will help us find that feeling of fulfillment, comfort, or inner happiness if we are patient. You may be going through a loss, needing to find more joy in your life or struggling with a personal storm. I would encourage you to put on your life preserver and ride out the storm with God’s word. I know I feel so much better when I get the garbage out of my head and fill it with good stuff. I don’t know how long it will be until I find more joy, but I know I’m on the right road. I can’t wait to experience that inner happiness again.

Missy Hillmer

Missy Hillmer is a writer, photographer, wife, mother, creative lady whose mind is constantly on the go. She loves coffee, dark chocolate especially with nuts, music soothes her soul and being outside in the sun recharges her body. She has an angel in Heaven. Her faith is what gets her through each day. Since her son Tyler’s accident she is passionate about telling her story with the hope that it will help or inspire at least one person who has lost a child.