Couple Clings to Joy After Losing Daughter
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At the age of six, LeeBeth became a follower of Christ. She worked at the church as an adult and had a strong work ethic. She was highly motivated and had many unique gifts and talents. From the outside, she looked like she had it all together, but on the inside, she was struggling.
She made a few poor choices in dating which turned into failed relationships. Her strong desire to be married and have kids left her devastated. In 2015 in her late twenties, LeeBeth began self-medicating with alcohol and Adderall, a prescription drug most often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD to deal with her depression, loneliness, and anxiety). Her first episode of binge drinking resulted in a seizure. After her second episode of binge-drinking (that her parents were aware of), the decision was made for LeeBeth to attend a rehabilitation facility in South Texas. She completed the program successfully and returned home. Ed and Lisa thought she was doing better. She returned to her job at the church and seemed to be managing her pain in a healthy way.
AN OUT OF ORDER DEATH
On January 19, 2021, Lisa called LeeBeth when Lisa’s plane landed in South Carolina. LeeBeth tried to Facetime, but quickly hung up. She called LeeBeth again, but she didn’t sound good. Lisa then called Ed and said, “Honey, I don’t think LeeBeth is doing well.” Ed went to LeeBeth’ s house and found her passed out on the floor. He took her to meet with her counselor and was able to feed her and sober her up. Then he took her back to their house where she would stay for the night. Lisa and Ed had talked to LeeBeth about life. They told her, “If you continue doing what you’re doing, you could die.” LeeBeth insisted she wanted to live and not die, but she didn’t know how to live with her pain.
A short time later Ed was in his office preparing a message on Abraham and Isaac. He had just written the words, “And Abraham laid Isaac on the altar” when he heard a sound from LeeBeth’ s room. He called out to her, but he heard only silence. He went to where she was sleeping and discovered she had a seizure and was unresponsive. “One moment I was her father and the next I was her first responder,” shares Ed. LeeBeth’ s brother and her sister-in-law began performing CPR. When she was taken by ambulance to the hospital, she had no pulse and a faint heartbeat. The doctor said, “We can’t do anything else. She’s not going to live.” Her body was removed from life support with members of their family surrounding her. Ed was Facetiming Lisa since she was in South Carolina. LeeBeth was thirty-four years old when she passed away. Her body was simply worn out.
After LeeBeth’s death, Ed and Lisa knew their journey of grief needed to be told. Three weeks later on Valentine's weekend, they stood before their church family and told the truth about LeeBeth’s sudden passing including her struggle with addiction. Although it was a messy story, they did not want to lie, but to share the events leading up to her death. Lisa says, “As difficult as it is to say, after LeeBeth died, her life became a testimony that has changed lives.” Based on their own experience, Ed and Lisa have been able to connect with many people who are hurting and vulnerable.
After LeeBeth’s death, Lisa tried to move from “Why me?” to “What now?” She knew this was necessary in order to begin to heal. However, she clarifies, “Healing isn’t the absence of hurt; healing is the presence of peace.” For years, Ed and Lisa had preached about the goodness of God, but she knew people were suddenly watching how they were processing their pain in the wake of LeeBeth’s death. It was a lot of pressure. When she walked out the door each day, Lisa asked God for strength.
Since LeeBeth’s passing Ed has had a hunger for Christian music like never before. “When we worship, we enter the presence of God. We’re at His throne. I know worship is about God, but I also know LeeBeth is right there in heaven worshipping too.” “Because of LeeBeth’s salvation, I have great hope,” shares Lisa.
WALKING THROUGH PAIN
When you are faced with pain in life you have two choices: to stay hurt or to walk through pain that leads us to the throne of God. As Ed and Lisa have processed their own pain they have discovered that there is purpose in pain. They believe you can let pain make you bitter or better. To manage your pain more effectively, Ed and Lisa share four steps that helped them in their journey through pain:
• Admit you cannot process pain on your own. – Don’t try to be in control. Instead, surrender control to Him because you can’t heal yourself.
• Believe Jesus is your loving Lord and anchor. Practice a lifestyle of discipline and commitment to Jesus. Walk with Him daily to create intimacy. Ed and Lisa practice writing their thoughts and prayers in a journal.
• Choose Him daily to lead you by the hand. “If we’re anchored in the Lord, if we’re making daily deposits in our relationship with Him and staying in His Word, we already know we’re to rely on God’s power in times of crisis, pain, and struggle,” shares Ed.
• Discover hope and healing in community. We are not meant to do life alone. The temptation after experiencing painful situations is to withdraw, but the body of Christ exists to be your community.
Ed and Lisa's book, A Path Through Pain, can be purchased here: A Path Through Pain.
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