There are lots of opportunities for offense surrounding the death of a child.
Once your heart is broken open wide with great sorrow, there’s no defense against the bumps and bruises that are a natural product of human relationship and interaction.
- Friends and family that didn’t show up.
- Friends and family that showed up but said or did the wrong thing.
- Friends and family that abandoned me as soon as the casket closed.
- People that make me feel guilty for grieving or question my sanity or my “progress”.
But I’m learning to let go of offense.
Not only because it is too heavy to carry in addition to my grief, but because the Lord has commanded it.
I grew up reciting what’s commonly called, “The Lord’s Prayer” without much thought to the individual phrases or their meaning. It wasn’t until adulthood that I read it in context and continued on to the rest of the chapter.
Read the rest here: Forgive Us Our Trespasses, As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us
My first instinct as a mother and a shepherd is always, “How can I help?”
I routinely set aside my own needs for the needs of others. Not because I’m so selfless but because that’s how I’m made-I’ve always had the heart of a caretaker.
That’s not a bad thing, most of the time.
But if taking care of others means NOT taking care of myself, then in the end, I’m of no use to anyone. When I allow every bit of energy-emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual-to drain away until there’s nothing left, I am unable to meet my most basic needs, much less the needs of others.
I’ve written before that grief puts a hole in my bucket. It guarantees that no matter how much is poured in, I’m never truly full.
Read the rest here: Grief and Self-Care: Surviving the Unthinkable
I’ll be honest-there are definitely times when “faking it” is the easier path. Chatty neighbors, standing in line, professional meetings or chance encounters lend themselves to light conversations that don’t need to include ALL my feelings or current grief experience.
But there are other times when being real, honest and authentic is not only preferable, it’s necessary.
I cannot fake it forever.
It took me awhile to figure that out.
Child loss is hard. Child loss impacts a family forever. Child loss is not “curable” or “solvable” and it’s not helpful to pretend it is.
So for the relationships that matter, I try to be transparent.
There’s a common bit of advice in grief circles: Fake it until you make it.
It’s not bad as far as it goes and can be pretty useful-especially just after the initial loss and activity surrounding it.
Like when I met the acquaintance in the grocery store a month after burying Dominic and she grabbed me with a giant smile on her face, “How ARE you?!!! It’s SO good to see you out!!!”
I just smiled and stood there as if I appreciated her interest, a deer caught in headlights, silently praying she’d live up to her talkative past and soon move on to another target.
BUT there comes a time when faking it is not helpful. In fact, it’s downright dangerous.
Read the rest here: Can’t Fake It Forever
When I wrote this a few years ago I had fallen outside when feeding the animals.
But I was reminded of the post when I fell-hard!-on sharp rocks in our creek playing with my grandson. I was holding his hand and both of us went down when my foot slipped.
I hobbled up the bank with a giant bleeding gash on my knee and I’m still living with a permanent knot on my kneecap. Poor little guy was frightened but not hurt.
He has recited that incident over and over and always ends it with, “I’m okay. Mama D okay. We’re okay.”
He can’t wait to get in again when it’s warmer.
I absolutely love, love, love that my sweet little boy has already learned the lesson of getting back up, even when it hurts.
It’s something I need to remember every. single. day.
I hate that question that every doctor’s office asks now, “Have you had any falls in the past twelve months?”
I always say, “no” even though that’s rarely true.
Because I know what they are looking for is evidence of disease that might be impacting balance and I’m perfectly free of that so I don’t want to place a red flag in my medical chart.
But I fall down pretty regularly.
Read the rest here: Falling Down and Getting Up Again
A little review as we get to the last post in our series: Trying to stuff or hide my pain from myself, God and others is fruitless and unhelpful.
I’ve got to breathe out the sorrow, doubts, angst and disappointment to make room for the life-giving breath of Truth and the Holy Spirit.
And then I need to do one more thing. I must appropriate the strength and courage of my Savior-the Author and Finisher of my faith.
It is possible to endure. It is possible to finish well. It is possible to hold onto hope and follow the Light and Love of Jesus through this Valley.
My friend and fellow bereaved mom, Margaret Franklin, Ryan’s mom, shared a beautiful Dutch word with me “Sterkte” (pronounced STAIRK-tah).
It literally translates “strength” or “power” but culturally means much more. It means bravery, strength, fortitude and endurance in the face of fear and insumountable odds through the empowering strength of God in me.
Not MY strength, but HIS.
It’s the strength Isaiah meant when he wrote:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 KJV
This is what it means to appropriate God’s strength:
Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Appropriate God’s Strength
Have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “My goodness! I talked WAY too much”?
I can become so wrapped up in sharing my own experience, spilling my own feelings, trying to communicate my own point of view that I don’t leave space for the other person to get a word in edgewise.
Sometimes I do the same thing when talking to God-I can’t stop chattering long enough to hear what He wants to speak into my pain.
When I choose to listen, He is faithful to remind me of truth. He is faithful to lead me to the green pastures of His word where I can feast on His promises and be filled with hope.
“I wake before the morning light. Every. single. morning.
I get my coffee, sit in my chair and wait for sunrise.
I never worry that today it might not happen.
I’m never concerned that after all these years of faithfulness, this day may be the one where daylight fails to make an appearance.
There is no fear in this darkness because I know it will not last forever.
Morning is coming.
Morning. Is. Coming.
And that’s the hope I cling to in this longer darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death-no matter how many years it may be, the Valley has an end.
Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Access the Truth
Some of us have grown up in faith communities where doubt is treated as disbelief.
I’m so sorry.
Doubt is, in my opinion, a precursor to deeper faith, stronger commitment, informed and more solid trust in God and in His goodness and sovereignty.
If devastating loss has brought you to knees or face down on the floor begging God to make sense of it all, you are in good company. So many of His saints have cried out in despair.
If you are frightened you are losing faith, remember this: the simple fact you know where and to Whom to bring your pain means your heart is still turned toward your Savior.
Grief forces me to walk Relentlessly Forward even when I long to go back.
I can’t stop the clock or the sun or the days rolling by.
Those of us who are more than a couple months along in this journey (or any journey that involves tragedy and loss) know that it is ABSOLUTELY POSSIBLE to feel worse than in the first few days.
Because as the edges of the fog lift and the reality of an entire lifetime looms before you the questions form and the doubt sinks in.
Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Acknowledge Doubt and Ask Questions
For those of us who follow Jesus, perhaps the most difficult and important grief work we must do is deciding how our faith fits into the new and awful reality of child loss.
I’ve encountered so many hurting hearts struggling to square their experience of devastating loss with their faith in a loving and all-powerful God.
I write about my own struggle over and over in this space but this series of posts is an orderly exploration of doubt, pain, faith and the hope I’ve found in Christ Jesus.
I pray it helps another heart hold on.
Child loss is Unnatural-no way around it.
Out of order death is devastating.
When my perfectly healthy, strong and gifted son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident on April 12. 2014 my world fell apart. My heart shattered into a million pieces. And after almost eight years, I’ve yet to even FIND all of those pieces much less put them back together.
So what does a heart do when that happens? Because, try as I might, I cannot stop time.
Even THAT awful day only lasted 24 hours.
When the sun rose again, the pain was still there. And behind that pain and mixed with it was something else-disappointment, disaffection, distrust.
Read the rest here: Trust After Loss: Admit the Pain
It would be so helpful if there was an app to track stress like there is to track spending.
Wouldn’t it be marvelous to get an alert that said, “Low Balance”, for mental, physical and psychological reserves like the one you can get for your bank account right before you are heading to overdraft territory?
But there isn’t.
And few of us are very good at gauging just how much is left in our mental wellness accounts which means we often keep giving when the well is more than dry.
Read the rest here: How Stress Impacts Grief
Before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I was a human dynamo!
Got a project? Count me in! Need a meal or a hand? Let’s go!
But since he left I find there are days when I can’t even remember what I’ve spent the hours doing. I’ve sat silent or otherwise frittered away so. much. time. in these nearly nine years.
Part of the reason is simple: When you wake up one morning and realize that really, truly, you have no control over the things that matter most, it’s easy to give up on trying to have control over anything.
That’s neither healthy nor helpful, though.
Traumatic loss can make a heart give up on everything-not just the one or two things that are truly outside our control.
It’s why so many of us bereaved parents find ourselves staring off into space, sitting in a chair, unable to move and do even the simplest tasks.
Read the rest here: The Importance of Agency in Grief