NO One is “Strong Enough”

I’m kind of an overachiever. 

I grew up in a family where the motto was “You can do whatever you want to do if you want to do it badly enough”.

If you promised to go somewhere, do something, make something, provide something-well you better go, do, make or provide.

NO excuses allowed.

That kind of work ethic does set you apart and help you get ahead.

But it can also set you up for ultimate, catastrophic failure. 

Because there will come a moment in every life when events beyond your control overwhelm your heart and prevent you from going, doing, making, providing.

And if your self-worth is built upon a foundation of never letting anyone down, never asking for help, never being needy-well, then you go from feeling worthy to feeling worthless in a heartbeat.

Before Dominic ran ahead to heaven I had short seasons of helplessness due to illness.  Those few days and weeks were hard but I knew that I would soon return to the woman I was before and could resume the work that was essential to my feeling worthy of love and respect.

These last years since his departure have proven to be an extended period of helplessness and brokenness that continue to prevent me from doing, doing, doing.

And worse, that have required me to ask for help-over and over and over again.

But you know what I’m learning?  I’m learning that my worth is not based on what I can give.  

I do not have to earn love.  If what I’m getting from others is because of what I do for them, then it’s not real love.

I do not have to justify my existence by working myself to death.  If that is the only reason people want me around, then it’s a lousy one.

I’m also learning that refusing help is pride.  Pure and simple.

I can wrap it up in any excuse I want, but the root is self-importance and insistence that I can “do it myself” like a defiant two-year-old.

NO ONE can do it all themselves.

We ALL need help.

Asking for it and receiving it gracefully is strength, not weakness.

you are never strong enough that you dont need help

 

 

Why I Have To Talk It Out

I admit I’m full of words.  When my mama came to pick me up when her best friend was babysitting for awhile, she said, “You can’t have her yet, she’s telling me all kinds of things!”

More than once my mouth got me in trouble.

It’s still the source of most of my problems.

But for a time after Dominic left I found that the only words I could muster beyond what was absolutely necessary were written in my journal.  Because the words I wanted to say were bitter and harsh and tasted bad as they came up my throat and threatened to roll off my tongue.

I didn’t want to tell the story of that early morning knock.  I didn’t want to speak aloud the terror that gripped my soul, the literal shattering of my heart, the unholy darkness that enveloped me.

I HAD to make phone calls.  I was forced to say, “Dominic is dead” over and over and over.  Then I wanted to hide in silence and stay on the fringe of conversations that filled our home and the church before we buried him.

It seemed easier to swallow the words than taste them.

But I couldn’t do that forever.

Eventually the words began to rot inside me and make the pain even worse.  I had to let them out.  I had to talk about it.  All of it.

The actual events.

The feelings associated with the accident.

The pain of choosing a cemetery plot, a casket, an order of service, of writing an obituary, of burying my son.

The awful emptiness that one life missing makes in a family of six.

The fact that at some point I woke from the stupor enough to wonder how the God I had worshiped for all these years let this happen.

And I needed someone to listen.  I needed someone to be a witness to my words.  It was no longer enough to write them down, wrap them up and hide them away.

They had to be spoken so that the power they had over my soul could be broken.

business-authenticity

Thank God for people who are willing to listen!  

I have friends and family who let me recite the same thing over and over and over so that each telling helps my heart toward healing.

I have several online and in-person communities of bereaved parents who do the same (and more!) because they understand precisely how I feel and can offer hope from their own stories of healing. *

Listening is love in action.

If you know someone whose heart carries great grief-and child loss is not the only hard journey hearts are makingoffer to listen. 

Give up a few minutes to hear how they are really doing, what is really hard, what they really need to say but may be afraid to speak aloud.  Leave spaces in conversation so a heart can work up the courage to share.  Don’t be quick to offer platitudes that shut down deep discussion.  

It often takes many, many repetitions of traumatic events for a heart to begin to heal. 

And each time you grant someone permission to share and listen to his or her story, you are applying balm to a weary soul.  ❤

listening is a postive act

 

*Here are two online closed communities for bereaved parents:   While We’re Waiting Support for Bereaved Parents  Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child

The Compassionate Friends offers in-person support groups around the country.

GriefShare also holds classes and offers in-person support.  Check online for availability in your area.

 

 

 

Repost: Don’t Want to Miss a Post? Here’s How.

I’m reposting this one just to help those of you that either want to catch every blog post and/or want an easy way to share them with friends and other bereaved parents.  ❤

I’m no tech expert.  I kind of blunder about like a blind mouse searching for cheese most of the time. So I feel you if you haven’t figured out how to make sure you get each day’s blog post.

For those that do want it each morning here are several ways to get it:

Read the rest here:  Don’t Want to Miss a Post? Here’s How.

Code Words and the Jesus Juke

In the South we have our ways.  Our ways of marginalizing folks who don’t quite fit in with who we think they should be or how we expect them to act.

Mostly we use code words.  Words that seem innocent enough to the uninitiated but pack a punch if you have inside information and know what they really mean.

Any sentence that begins, “Bless her heart….” will almost surely end with a tidbit of gossip that undermines a reputation.

Sometimes we switch it up (especially in church) with “I think we need to pray for…”.  Because we all know asking for prayer is holy, even if the situation isn’t and the person mentioned would just as soon her business stay private.

Social media has its own code words too.

Vague references to someone or something we don’t like or agree with usually begin with,  “Ugh!  I just don’t understand why….” followed by a litany of thinly veiled complaints.

But sometimes the code isn’t very complicated and it’s really easy for others to figure out precisely who or what you are talking about.

And it damages reputations and hurts feelings and you may sit back in  your chair, tablet or laptop in hand, thinking, “Not my problem.  I didn’t say WHO it was”.

But it IS your problem.

Even when you cloak your complaint or comment in biblical references or godly quotes, bottom line is you are accusing or mocking or undermining someone else.

My daughter calls it “Jesus juking”-tacking on a Bible verse before or after a remark in an attempt to shut down discussion or rebuttal.

Because if someone tries to disagree with YOU, it’s set up to make them look like they are disagreeing with Scripture or God Himself.

I don’t like these games people play.  I don’t like code words.  I don’t like tactics intended to make others feel small so I can feel larger.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Sometimes social media forces my hand and I have to speak publicly on what I would rather discuss privately.

But that’s rare.

If I have a problem with someone, I try to take it directly to THEM.

And I hope they will do the same with me. ❤

did I offer peace

#Iknow

After publishing the last post, there has been interest on some private grief support sites to create our own version of the #metoo hashtag sweeping social media.  

We tend to talk among ourselves, lamenting the lack of understanding that losing a child changes everything.

So here it is, folks.  Our opportunity to stand and be counted.  Our chance to have our voices heard.

Let’s speak up.  

Let’s refuse to be shamed into silence.

#Iknow

child-loss-overcome

 

 

“Me Too”: The Power of Validation

In the wake of revelations that Harvey Weinstein built his media empire in part, by harrassing (and worse) women who worked for him, there is a Facebook wave of “me too” posts by women and men who have also been harrassed, molested or assaulted.

It is empowering.  

Because when hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands raise their social media “hands” to be counted, suddenly the lonely heart hiding in the corner realizes they are NOT alone.  

I am thrilled that the secrecy and shame of sexual misconduct by men against women is being dragged into the light.  That is where it belongs. 

I want to do the same for child loss.  I want to do the same for grief.  I want to start a bold campaign where mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents and others say, “Me too!”

My heart hurts too. 

My life is NOT the same and will NEVER be the same without my loved one’s companionship on earth.

I STILL look for him to come through the door on holiday weekends.  I still long to CALL her and share good news or talk over my day.  I CANNOT give up his old clothes or put away her toys or bundle up his belongings for charity.

I have to suck in my breath when a quick glance at a passing stranger tells my heart, “THERE HE IS!”

But my head says, “No, that can’t be him-he’s GONE.”

Songs-all kinds of songs-provoke memories, feelings, tears.  Dry it up.  Keep the fake face smiling.  Look forward, don’t let them see. 

There are thousands of us.  Thousands. of. us.

Who will stand and raise their hand and SHOUT, “Me too!”?

me too sharing the path

 

You Are Not Alone

Grief is isolating.

Even in our immediate family, differing grief styles, personalities and gender can separate us from one another in our sorrow.

And out in the world, well-THAT separation is as long and tall as the Great Wall of China.

But I’m here to tell you that you are NOT alone.

I felt so very alone after Dominic ran ahead to heaven.  I only knew a couple of bereaved parents and their losses were many, many years prior to mine so they were at a different place.  Although they reached out, I didn’t have the courage or words to access their wisdom.

I live in a very small community and though I expanded my search to the nearby larger cities, there were only two grief groups I could find and neither exclusive to child loss.

In addition, I wanted a group founded on and looking toward the promises of God in Christ.  I was already discouraged, disheartened and on the verge of hopelessness-I couldn’t bear to have that part of my experience reinforced without the counterbalance of hope in Jesus.

I read, read, read.

And those books helped so much.  But they still lacked the give and take I needed.  I longed for a safe space to share my heart and have others share theirs.  I wanted to be able to ask questions and hear how other bereaved parents handled similar feelings, fears and situations.

I needed community.

It was 17 long months before I found it through While We’re Waiting support group for bereaved parents.

What a breath of fresh air!

Even though the closed group is peopled by broken hearts there is understanding and compassion and HOPE.  Those further along in this journey speak courage to the hearts freshly shattered.  Tender, vulnerable moms and dads know that HERE they are SAFE.

Last week I attended and spoke at the Through This Valley conference for bereaved parents held near the While We’re Waiting Refuge.

I got to meet some of the very special people who have helped me on this journey.  It was a preview of Heaven-hearts united in love for one another and love for our Savior.

Lots and lots of tears.  But lots and lots of hugs.  Lots and lots of sorrow over missing our children.  But lots and lots of joyful anticipation that we WILL be reunited.

You are NOT alone, dear heart.

There is a community of parents waiting to embrace you.

None of us would have chosen this painful path yet we choose to walk together on it.

Come, join hands with others who will speak courage to your heart.

while were waiting