Map of Sorrow

I take great consolation in the fact that C.S. Lewis, a man who defended the Christian faith in an age of faithless reason was just as stricken by grief as I am.  

All the research, all the thinking, all the gathering of truth he had hoarded in his heart for decades was no defense against unbearable loss and sorrow banging down the door.

He clung to Christ.  So do I.  

But he refused to deny his feelings.  I will not deny mine.  

Sorrow is no longer ALL I feel.  And I am very thankful for that.

But this road still stretches before me, bends and twists and rises and falls. 

It is, as Lewis says, “a process” and it will last a lifetime.

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process … There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape … Not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago.
~C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Repost: Death Is Awful

I have friends who have not only buried a child (some have buried more than one) but have also buried parents, siblings, in-laws and other people close to their hearts in a very short span of time.

And I am appalled when they recite the trite comments doled out by others meant to patch broken hearts and sweep the leftover pieces under the rug of social propriety.

Let me just say this:  Death.  Is.  Awful.

Full stop.  No easy change of subject or laughter allowed to make the hearing of it softer.

Read the rest here:  Death Is Awful

There’s No Place Like Home

Dominic’s Heaven Day fell right in the middle of Holy Week this year-Wednesday, April 12th marked three years since he entered Heaven and left us here.

And every day since then I’ve been homesick.  Homesick for what I used to know and homesick for what I know awaits me when I join him there.

IMG_1795I can’t say that I handled this awful anniversary any better than the previous two but I did handle it differently.  This year I was determined to create space for both mourning and dancing.

I cried a lot from Palm Sunday through his Heaven Day and into Resurrection Sunday morning.  I found new wounds that needed attention and realized some old ones weren’t as patched up as I thought.

It was costly in terms of personal and relational energy but for the first time since Dom ran ahead to heaven, I was able to reclaim a holiday gathering.

And it was beautiful.

photo (40)I missed him, of course, but things flowed and people loved one another and ministry happened and laughs floated through the air.

Everyone left with extra food and smiles on their faces.

This used to be my house every holiday, almost every Sunday.  It hasn’t been that way since Dom left.

But for a few hours it felt like home again.

i-have-come-home-at-last-c-s-lewis

 

Repost: Remember: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

“On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.
On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call “ambivalent.” It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.”  C.S. Lewis,  Miracles

Bury a child and suddenly the death of Christ becomes oh, so personal. The image of Mary at the foot of the cross is too hard to bear.

Read the rest here:  Remember: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

Again and Again

I don’t cry nearly as much as I used to.  

I’m not sure if it’s because I feel the need less often or because I’m just better at holding the tears at bay.  But when I do, it’s pretty ugly.

My heart is still broken.  

My soul still cries out for the child I carried in my womb and mothered for nearly 24 years.

I am not the person I used to be.

And I don’t know how to be the person I am now.  

I had time to grow into the “me” that was shattered in a moment when a deputy knocked on my door.  There was no time to get used to THIS news-not even the nine months it takes for a baby to grow to birth maturity.

In a breath, my son was gone.  In a breath, my world was changed.

I have lived with this truth for nearly three years.

I tell the story like it happened to someone else.  I give the important facts, the little details that make it real but it still seems unreal in so many ways.

I cannot believe this is my life

And when it hits me that this IS, in fact, my life-that’s when the crying starts.

I can’t help it.

I am just as astonished today as I ever was.

For in grief nothing “stays put.” One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often — will it be for always? — how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realized my loss till this moment”? The same leg is cut off time after time.
~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Death Is Awful

I have friends who have not only buried a child (some have buried more than one) but have also buried parents, siblings, in-laws and other people close to their hearts in a very short span of time.

And I am appalled when they recite the trite comments doled out by others meant to patch broken hearts and sweep the leftover pieces under the rug of social propriety.

Let me just say this:  Death.  Is.  Awful.

Full stop.  No easy change of subject or laughter allowed to make the hearing of it softer.

It should be hard.

It should make us pause.

We should stop in our tracks to acknowledge the passing of the breath of God from a person’s body.

Death is an unavoidable reminder that the world is not as God intended it to be.  It’s a reminder of the cost of sin.  It’s a reminder that our time is short.  And it’s a reminder that we are NOT in control.

Those are very uncomfortable truths.

My hope in Christ makes those truths bearable but it does not make facing the death of those I love hurt less.

A broken heart is a perfectly natural and reasonable response to the awfulness of death and to the absence of the presence of one I love. Great grief is the price of great love.  

There’s a scene in The Magician’s Nephew where a little boy named Digory meets Aslan. His mother is sick, and he wants to ask for Aslan’s help, but he’s afraid. Lewis writes:

Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. “My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.”

For those outside this great grief, it seems helpful to toss words like bandaids but it’s not.

I’m sure you mean well when you try to circumscribe my grief-to give limits to its expression and duration.

But unrealistic expectations make it more difficult to bear the burden I’m already carrying. Your words add to this weight of sorrow and pain that I cannot untie from my bent back.

carrying-a-heavy-load

Presence-often SILENT presence-is the balm for my wounded soul.

But please: Don’t say it’s not really so bad. Because it is. Death is awful, demonic. If you think your task as comforter is to tell me that really, all things considered, it’s not so bad, you do not sit with me in my grief but place yourself off in the distance away from me. Over there, you are of no help. What I need to hear from you is that you recognize how painful it is. I need to hear from you that you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.

~Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

 

Repost: God in a Box

Every idea of [God] we form, He must in mercy shatter. The most blessed result of prayer would be to rise thinking ‘But I never knew before. I never dreamed…’ I suppose it was at such a moment that Thomas Aquinas said of all his own theology, ‘It reminds me of straw.’

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (1964)

It’s possible that you haven’t thought of it this way, but if you are a believer in Christ and have yet to walk through faith-shattering trials, you may have placed God in a box.

I know I had.

Read the rest here:  God in a Box