I know it is hard. I know you don’t truly understand how I feel. You can’t. It wasn’t your child.
I know I may look and act like I’m “better”. I know that you would love for things to be like they were: BEFORE.But they aren’t.
I know my grief interferes with your plans. I know it is uncomfortable to make changes in traditions we have observed for years. But I can’t help it. I didn’t ask for this to be my life.
I know that every year I seem to need something different. I know that’s confusing and may be frustrating. But I’m working this out as I go. I didn’t get a “how to” manual when I buried my son. It’s new for me every year too.
Thank you for the outpouring of encouragement, kindness and prayers.
You’ve breathed new life into this old and weary soul.
I can’t really walk away. Writing is what I do, it’s how I process life-the good, the bad, the sweet and the bitter.
But crafting posts is more than stream of consciousness journaling not meant to be read by another soul. It’s sitting with an idea long enough to be able to present it to others in a form they can understand, appropriate and use in their own lives.
It takes time.
So for the next two weeks (maybe longer) I’m going to recycle old posts and give my heart space to do some of its own processing and healing.
For many of you, they will still feel new because you joined us recently.
For some of you, they will be old and tired and not worth your time. Feel free to skip them.
I promise to alert you when I’m writing new things again.
P.S. If anyone has ideas on which topics might be interesting to gather and repost all in a row, add them in the comments. I did this once with *Prayer* and folks enjoyed it.
I have to admit that I’m not nearly in the fog as much with my mama’s death as I was with Dominic’s death.
I’ve found this time around I can kind of stand a little apart and be a little more objective.
It’s no less horrific or painful or sad, but it IS an orderly death (parents before children) and gives me space to take a step back and observe some things instead of having to filter every single interaction through my emotions.
So can I share a little secret?
It literally takes five minutes or less to encourage a broken heart.
I know people often think that if they don’t have the perfect words or lots of time it’s better to do or say nothing.
That’s just not true.
Send a text, a private message, an email, a card. Make a quick phone call (believe me, the bereaved will not keep you on the line!) or leave a voicemail.
What grieving hearts want to know is that someone sees their pain, someone has taken notice of the drastic and unwelcome change that’s been thrust upon them.
We don’t want to feel invisible. We don’t want to be overlooked because it makes you uncomfortable.
Face your own discomfort (which is microscopic compared to the heartache of the bereaved!) and make the call, send the message, write the email or card.
I promise you will waste more than five minutes today.
So take that tiny bit of time and focus your efforts on speaking courage to a hurting heart.
You don’t have to have the perfect words- “I’m so sorry” is just fine.
Then your head can hit the pillow tonight knowing you helped a heart hold onto hope.
You made a difference between someone giving up or going on.
I have learned so much since that day when Dominic left us suddenly for Heaven.
Some of the things I know now are things I wish I didn’t know at all.
I’ve learned some things that serve me well-not only in how I respond to my own pain and loss-but also how I respond to the pain and loss in the lives of those I love.
I’ve had to practice them this week since my mama was desperately ill and then joined Dominic and Jesus.
It reminded me how hard it is for those who have not walked this Valley of the Shadow of Death to really comprehend how their words and actions either truly support or subtly (or not so subtly!) wound already hurting hearts.
So here’s a short list of things things to say and do that actually HELP grieving friends and family:
Not everyone leaves earth quickly. Some are ill for a long time. It’s natural for friends to want to stop by home or hospital to see a sick loved one and show support for the family. Please call ahead to see if it’s convenient. If it’s not, then don’t come. Respect that while it may feel like a reunion to you and others gathered in the living room or the waiting room it’s a very sober and frightening and stress-filled time for the family. Loud laughing and back-slapping are unwelcome reminders that the person in the bed can do neither.
Please don’t impose your desire to help on the family’s unwillingness to accept it. Offer-that’s wonderful and appreciated-but there may be circumstances you don’t know about that just make it hard or impossible for them to let you do what you would like to do. It’s really, really hard to use the limited energy available to politely turn down an offer.
When you stop by to pay respects, don’t overstay your welcome. You’ll probably never notice that the family is working hard to extend hospitality and make small talk. It’s exhausting. You are not the only people “stopping by for a minute” while the family is trying to take care of funeral details. They are deciding on what clothes their loved one will be buried in, what photos to include in a memorial slide show, what will be served at dinner after the service, who will sing or speak or play a piano solo. There’s just no energy left for small talk. Express condolences, leave the dessert or congealed salad and leave them to the little bit of quiet they may enjoy before the next few days of crazy.
Take time to write notes of remembrance if you can. Facebook comments, text messages, emails, written notes or cards are wonderful! These can be gathered together, printed and saved as a beautiful tribute.
If you haven’t played an active role in the deceased’s life or the life of their family recently, don’t show up and insist on “inner circle” privileges now that they are gone. This is not the time to force reconciliation or expect a family reunion type celebration. While that may be the ultimate outcome of this traumatic and life-altering event, respect those that have maintained relationship over the years.
Instead of asking, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do”, instead say, “How may I serve you in the weeks and months to come?”. Grievers may not have an immediate answer, but ask again in a week or so after others have drifted away. Also consider asking if specific things may be helpful.
Don’t wander around the house. Respect the family’s privacy.
Don’t ask personal questions such as “How did he die?” or “What happened?”. If the bereaved want you to know, they will tell you.
Be attentive to body language.
Allow grievers to lead.
Don’t ignore comments that indicate it’s time to go.
Accept that what you may want to do and what is truly helpful may be two different things.
Fewer words are almost always better than idle chatter.
And I’m reminded once again how very important friends are along life’s journey.
So. many. people. have called, texted, messaged and expressed love and concern for our family.
It’s really encouraging!
But what I know, that others may not know (if they’ve been blessed to escape losing a close loved one so far) is that it’s not too long before all this attention fades away.
People usually don’t choose to stop connecting with broken hearts. It’s just that life gets busy and while grievers can’t ignore the palpable absence of their loved one, other folks have mostly filled in the space where they used to be.
Please don’t forget us.
Even years later, there are days when grief overwhelms a heart.
We NEED faithful friends to remind us that pain is not all that’s left in the world.