Most of us have taken a class or two in literature–we read other people’s writing and sit around discussing “what it really means”. My husband has always scoffed at the notion that anyone but the author knows that.
Me–I love books, plays and poetry so I’ve spent a lifetime reading and trying to interpret the meaning of others’ words.
But now I find I’m leaning more toward my husband’s point of view.
One of the challenges I face as a grieving parent is finding that other people want to interpret my experience for me.
They want to curate my mourning like a museum exhibit–arrange and highlight and sift through the days before and after burying my child and lay my experience out in some way that makes sense to them.
Sometimes it is subtle and involves mentioning memories that cast the missing child in a positive light–extolling his virtues and highlighting his achievements–as if noting how wonderful he was when walking this earth makes it easier to let him go.
Other times it is direct and forceful–“Everything happens for a reason.” Or, “He wouldn’t want you to be sad.” Or, my personal favorite, “You know he’s safe with Jesus and you will be together again one day.”
While my theology rests firmly on the finished work of Christ, my heart longs for the physical presence of my son. So none of these platitudes are helpful and they only draw a sharper contrast between my hope and my experience.
Let me just be blunt: unless you have buried a child, you do not know how it feels.
I am grateful for your support, for your prayers, for your kindness, compassion and love.
But please do not tell me how this all makes sense or fits together in God’s plan or will someday “make a difference”.
I invite you to travel with me, to share stories (good and bad) of my son with me, to sit with me and look at the memories, feel the sorrow and experience the missing.
And, if you are brave, you can ask me what it means.