I’m not at all fond of the saying, “Don’t let your grief define you”.
I understand that I shouldn’t let my grief CONSTRAIN me, shouldn’t let it circumscribe my life, making it smaller and smaller until all I think about, speak about or experience is sadness, sorrow and missing.
And I don’t.
But I cannot ignore that losing a child DOES define me. It defines me in exactly the same way other momentous events-good and bad-shape, mold and make me into who I am.
Marriage, divorce, receiving Christ as Savior, growing up in a small town or big city-all those things matter to me and in my relationships with other people.
Becoming a mother changed everything.
I was no longer free to think only of myself, consider only my wishes and schedule, eat, sleep and go places without making arrangements for this new little person.
Burying a child changed everything again.
I was no longer free to believe that I would be spared great heartache in this life. I couldn’t ignore the hard question of why does a good God let bad things happen? My heart was shattered and though the pieces are coming back together again, it will never be the same heart it was before.
We routinely ask one another, “What kind of work do you do?”
Because learning about a person’s work usually gives you insight into many aspects of a person’s life, character, preferences and inclinations.
In the same way, you can’t really understand me unless you know that one of my children lives in Heaven.
Am I ONLY a bereaved mother?
I am many other things besides- a wife, mother, follower of Jesus, shepherd, daughter, rural resident, bookworm, writer, lover of all things living.
But I AM a bereaved mother.
And that colors my perceptions of the world just as surely as any of those other aspects of my identity.
I can’t ignore it.
To do so would be to dishonor my child.
I refuse to do that.