Unashamed to Wait

Maybe what God has for me and others who suffer long is not a victorious tag line that can be slapped on a photo or shared on social media. 

Maybe it’s only in the continued press of suffering that God reveals Himself in ways the non-suffering never see.

Maybe a dash to declare victory is actually rushing past what God has for us in deep pain and ongoing struggle.

Maybe waiting in hopeful expectation for what God is doing and will do in me and through me IS the victory.

Read the rest here: Not Ashamed to Wait

Courage: Speaking One’s Mind While Telling All One’s Heart

It is scary to speak aloud what you hope will never happen to you.  It’s unbelievably frightening to admit that we really have no control over whether, or when, we or the ones we love might leave this world.

But I am not going to keep silent.

Not because I want pity or special treatment, but because I want that parent who just buried his or her child to know that you. are. not. alone.

Read the rest here: Courage is a Heart Word

A Rough Week

Y’all! This morning marks seven days of exhausting emotional and physical effort that I absolutely, positively did not anticipate.

This time last week I was looking forward to being at home where I could finish up (way ahead, mind you!) prepping for the soon arrival of my grandjoys for a long visit.

I had nearly finished some major cleaning out and rearranging and figured I’d fiddle around the edges and do the exciting and much more rewarding tasks of gathering craft materials, organizing delicious snack recipes and rounding up fun bath time toys when I got an unexpected phone call.

My very dear friend (more like a sister) fell in her kitchen and broke her back (not her spinal cord, thank the Lord!).

Suddenly everything else was on hold, emergency protocol prevailed and I was swept up in a whirlwind of ambulance transports, emergency rooms and coordinating communication among friends and family members who couldn’t join us in the tiny cubicle while we waited for a doctor to diagnose her condition and determine her treatment.

[By the way, if you haven’t been in an emergency room lately can I just tell you they are overwhelmed, overrun and understaffed. Through no fault of their own, nurses and doctors are working with fewer resources and greater demands than ever before. So (as my Emergency RN daughter says), “Don’t do stupid things!”.]

It took multiple imaging scans and consults to determine that my friend would have to be admitted to the hospital at least for a few days but there were no available rooms. So the waiting continued.

By early Thursday morning she had a room and we began a new round of consultations and physical therapy to figure out the best way forward.

While she was there, I was back and forth.

Driving through rain and city traffic (not my favorite) an hour there and an hour back from my rural home was a real challenge. Getting up and dragging my behind out of bed while my autoimmune disease was acting up was another. Carrying bags and my friend’s prosthetic leg two and a half blocks downtown with my wonky and very painful wrist was yet one more. And can I admit I absolutely HATE face masks???

Let’s just say, it’s been an adventure.

I’m tired.

I’m once again reminded of the fact that I have far less reserve than I had before Dominic died.

Even though I’m stronger and better able to carry the load of grief and handle his absence I still experience a constant and unrelenting level of stress that means I simply do not have the ability to absorb extra demands on my emotions or physical strength like I used to.

And I am also reminded that people think because it’s been eight and a half years that I’m “back to normal”. They see me smiling, laughing, walking in the world like everyone else and assume it’s no big deal to take on additional responsibility.

But it is.

It is still very MUCH a big deal.

I can’t Spend the Same Energy Twice.

I’m not sharing to garner sympathy. I’m sharing because I hope that if you have also had a rough week you won’t feel so alone.

It’s OK to admit we don’t have the same energy or resources we once had.

It’s OK to ask for help.

It’s OK to not be OK.

When You Can’t Ignore the Missing: Hard Stop Days

Most of the time I’m just kind of rolling along.

There are things to do, places to go, people to see, animals to feed.

I get up, get going and get on with it.

But there are some days that are what I call “Hard Stops” on this journey.  They are the days that force my heart to take special notice of the fact that Dominic isn’t here.

Read the rest here: Hard Stops: When You Can’t Ignore the Missing

Griefwork: Is It OK To Put Some Friendships on “Hold”?

A few years ago I spent the weekend with a small group of bereaved moms.

For our last session together, I solicited anonymous questions from the group that I promised to try to answer and discuss further.

There were lots of good ones but one of the most poignant was this:

Is it OK to put some friendships on hold because the interaction is no longer encouraging to me? I leave lunches together sad because their lives are going fine and I’m in such pain.

A Grieving Mom

My heart went out to this mama for so many reasons!

First, even in her grief she was concerned about doing the right thing, about being a good friend and about rightly interpreting the situation. She knew her friend wasn’t actively harming her. In fact, the friend was most likely trying hard to come alongside and encourage her heart.

But it still hurt.

And so she wanted to know if she was obligated to “grin and bear it” or if she could graciously and authentically set a boundary that meant a little (or a lot!) of distance between this friend and herself-hopefully for only a season.

This is one of the hard truths and difficult conundrums that inform the lives of many grievers. It certainly was part of mine for a long time.

I craved compassionate companionship from concerned friends and family while, at the exact same moment, longed for solitude and seclusion from “ordinary” life.

How in the world could the world just go on? How in Heaven’s name did the entire universe not take note of my great and irreplaceable loss?

For months (probably, honestly, for a couple of years!) there was always a subscript to every conversation and face-to-face interaction that read like Subtitles for a foreign film. And some folks lives were just too beautiful, too happy, too much like the one I wished I still had to endure the emotional burden that gap produced for my wounded heart.

So I had to limit my interaction with them (for their sake AND mine).

I unfollowed (NOT unfriended!) people on social media. They were none the wiser that the hap-hap-happy posts they splashed everywhere weren’t appearing in my newsfeed and I wasn’t constantly confronted by my own envy and sorrow.

I sent cards for occasions instead of showing up at certain celebrations. I chose them thoughtfully and wrote meaningful and sincere messages. I didn’t have a single person react badly that their wish was on paper instead of in person.

I withdrew from some of the groups where this kind of “humble bragging” was encouraged and promoted. It was a long, long time before I went to a women’s event that wasn’t focused on child loss.

No one really noticed.

And for those few relationships that were so close I couldn’t graciously or subtly move away, I told my friend that while I valued them, wanted very much to stay in touch and support them and didn’t want everything to be about ME, I needed to let them know certain topics might make me uncomfortable or sad.

So we tried to get together around activities that lent themselves to “in the moment” conversation. We didn’t linger long over lunch or on the phone. We walked in a park or went to a movie.

In time, as I did the work grief requires and as I grew stronger and better able to carry this burden called “child loss”, I was able to ease some of the boundaries I had put in place to protect my heart.

I never, ever want child loss (or any other hard life event or trauma) to become an excuse for my bad or unkind behavior.

But grief is work and requires so much time, energy and effort!

If I hadn’t made space and given myself the necessary grace to do that work I would not have found the measure of healing I now enjoy.

So, yes, dear heart-it’s OK to set boundaries.

It’s OK to pull back from some relationships to foster healing.

And it’s OK to reach out and let people back in, too, when your heart feels more whole again.

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: How Do You Breathe?

I’m ending Bereaved Parents Month by sharing this post because I still have moments when I marvel that I’ve survived.

It was the question I asked the bereaved mother that came to my son’s funeral.

It was the question a mother asked me as we stood by her granddaughter’s casket, surrounded by family and flowers.

And it is the right question.

Because when the breath leaves the body of your child, and you look down at the shell that used to be the home of a vibrant, living soul, you simply can. not. breathe.

Read the rest here: How Do You Breathe?

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: What Grieving Parents Want Others to Know

I wrote this post December, 2015.  It hadn’t been long since I joined an online community of bereaved parents and began to see that I wasn’t the only one who had friends and family that misunderstood child loss.

I was spending a lot of time in my life trying to help others comprehend, just a little, what it felt like to bury a child.

Trying to give them a tiny taste of how this pain is so, so different than any other I had experienced.  Begging them to toss the popular ideas bandied around that grief followed “stages” and was “predictable”.

I re-share every so often because it seems to help, a little.  I’m re-sharing today in  honor of Bereaved Parents Month. 

People say, “I can’t imagine.“

But then they do.

They think that missing a dead child is like missing your kid at college or on the mission field but harder and longer.

That’s not it at all.

Read the rest here: What Grieving Parents Want Others to Know

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: Good Answers to Hard (Insensitive, Inappropriate) Questions

I was utterly amazed at the questions people plied me with not long after Dominic’s accident.

They ranged from digging for details about what happened (when we ourselves were still unsure) to ridiculous requests for when I’d be returning to my previous responsibilities in a local ministry.

Since then, many of my bereaved parent friends have shared even more questions that have been lobbed at them across tables, across rooms and in the grocery store.

Recently there was a post in our group that generated so many excellent answers to these kinds of questions, I asked permission to reprint them here (without names, of course!).

So here they are, good answers to hard (or inappropriate or just plain ridiculous) questions:

Read the rest here: Good Answers to Hard (Insensitive, Inappropriate) Questions

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: STILL Need Grace and Space

It took me a little while to realize that if I was going to survive this lifelong journey I had to make some changes in how and when I responded to requests to do something, be somewhere or participate in outside events.   

Because no matter how worthy the request, there was only so much of me to go around and I was forced to spend nearly all my energy and time and effort on figuring out how this great wound was impacting me and my family.

I cannot overemphasize how much strength and energy is needed to do the work grief requires.

Read the rest here: Grace and Space

Bereaved Parents Month 2022: It’s Complicated

One of the things I’ve been forced to embrace in the wake of child loss is there are very few questions, experiences or feelings that are simple anymore.

“How many children do you have?”

A common, get-to-know-you question lobbed across tables, down pews and in the check-out line at the grocery store.  But for many bereaved parents, it can be a complex question that gets a different answer depending on who is asking and where we are.

Read the rest here:  It’s Complicated

%d bloggers like this: