Life can be cruel… and confusing. We all need anchors to hold on to. My daughter, Katie-Lynn, found Jamie Grace and her music to be her anchor during a very difficult year of change and transition.
The story starts in the Fall of 2013 when her grandmother (my mum) died from the complications of Parkinson’s and Dementia after a 22 year battle with the disease that culminated with 5 years in a nursing home. Eleven weeks later (to the day) her grandfather (my dad) passed away from a heart attack. After 65 years of marriage it wasn’t just a physical heart attack, I believe it was also from a “broken heart”. Our family was numb. We expected mum to pass, but my dad was a complete surprise and we were talking to him the day he died. I couldn’t move, function, and had no energy as a dad to care for my grieving family since I was drowning in it myself.
Katie-Lynn has always been close to God. But this rocked her world. My dad especially was very close to her. He teased her, poked at her, and played with her… and she gave it right back. They we so much a like… loud voices, loud sneezes, full of mischief and spunk. They loved each other deeply. But when death strikes, often darkness also falls.
The last year of elementary school (Grade 8) was tough for Katie-Lynn. Grief, anxiety, poor self image and a huge sense of loss set in. Struggling with subjects she used to conquer. Friendships that were solid began to crumble. And parents that were trying to pick themselves up couldn’t pick her up and help her to process grief. Change of schools into high school and the cruelty that exists in new routines, new friends, new pecking orders. Consistency and continuity crumbled beneath her… hurt, damage, stress, loneliness began to rise.
She turned to self-injury to ease the emotional pain. She isolated herself in her bedroom or behind headphones. She began not eating and developed a distorted understanding of her self and body image. She reached out for God, but God was being silent. Abandoned by grandpa, ignored by dad, and finally not connecting with God her heavenly father she believed she had no family left. Hurt by friends and again abandoned. Depression, self-harm in the form of starvation and cutting led to a very dark place in her life. She began writing her story (as she perceived it) and others in similar thought patterns encouraged her to keep writing. This led to her making plans to end her life and writing several specific goodbye letters to family, friends, and teachers.
Thankfully, by then I had been making progress in healing emotional the scars of grief. And, I believe strongly that GOD led me to find those letters and intervene…
That was 15 weeks ago, but it feels like eternity.
My girl is a fighter! And Grace (Both Jamie and God’s) have played an important role in that. Katie-Lynn was hospitalized the day I found the letters. She received in patient treatment for teens regarding eating disorders, self harm, suicide, and given coping mechanisms for dealing with the negative thoughts, emotions, and actions.
One of her coping mechanisms was listening to Jamie Grace – Fighter. whenever she was down… hurting… or even in the car on the way to school. Among other things, that saved her life.
Katie-Lynn isn’t out of the woods yet. Our family secrets… depression, self-harm, loneliness, addiction have been exposed and the cycle is beginning to be broken. She became aware of my depression, her grandparents mental illness, and suddenly she wasn’t alone and others did know what she was going through and what she felt.
With adjustments at school, rebuilding of friendships, and a deeper dependence upon God… Katie-Lynn is healing. I see her smile, laugh, experience joy. She has rejoined and experiences family – at home, church, and school. No more self-harm. She communicates her anxiety and feelings as they turn dark and we can speak truth into those situations. She has good Christian counselors. She reads (and still writes but a different ending to her story and tells her peer editors the difference Grace makes).
My daughter is a fighter! Has been since the day she was born. And, she will always be my scrapper! (No matter what she faces…)