The fact that so many bereaved parents tell me they don’t feel they can share their experience on their own FaceBook or other social media pages.
That’s just WRONG!
They have been shushed to silent suffering because when they break open the vault of emotions and let others see what’s inside, most people turn away-or worse, they condemn that wounded heart for sharing.
I remember the early days after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven when people were still checking in often on our family.
Some days there were a dozen or more messages that really, really needed an answer.
But I just couldn’t.
“How are you?” is often a more difficult question than you might think when your world is falling apart.
I wanted to tell the truth about how hard the days were and harder still the long dark nights but it felt too personal, too frightening and too likely to be misunderstood by a heart with no frame of reference.
So most of my responses looked something like this:
Eventually I found out who the safe people were and began to share more openly.
The others-the ones who weren’t safe or who were only asking out of a sense of curiosity or obligation-simply stopped asking when they didn’t get the answers they were looking for.
I’ve learned to give hurting hearts space.
I give them permission NOTto answer.
I want them to know I care but I don’t ask penetrating questions that might require answers they aren’t prepared to give.
There is so much going on right now in our country and our world that hurts my heart.
I could get on my soapbox and pontificate about what policies should be or what politicians should do but my tiny voice wouldn’t make a difference on the grander stage.
My world is pretty small in comparison to social influencers and the ones who want to be.
Even still, what I do and what I say each day matters.
It matters to my family and my neighbors.
It matters to the folks with whom I share social media space, the road and the grocery aisle.
So I make it a habit to extend and receive grace.
I extend it when someone else’s experience informs an opinion different than my own. I extend it when someone posts a meme or article with which I disagree. I extend it when I scroll past what I consider offensive-just ignore it and go on-instead of “taking them to task”.
I receive it when my friends do the same.
It’s not my job to police everyone else on the planet.
It IS my job to live according to my profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Grace-unmerited favor-poured out abundantly on me and available for me to pour out on others.
“Please”and “thank you” are how we live in community with others.
Even when our world is crumbling and our hearts are breaking, we don’t toss these courtesies away.
You begin to realize that everyone has a tragedy, and that if he doesn’t, he will. You recognize how much is hidden beneath the small courtesies and civilities of everyday existence. Deep sorrow and traces of great loss run through everyone’s lives, and yet they let others step into the elevator first, wave them ahead in a line of traffic, smile and greet their children and inquire about their lives, and never let on for a second that they, too, have lain awake at night in longing and regret, that they, too, have cried until it seemed impossible that one person could hold so many tears, that they, too, keep a picture of someone locked in their heart and bring it out in quiet, solitary moments to caress and remember.
Roseanne Cash, Composed: A Memoir by Roseanne Cash
I remember walking down the grocery store aisle wondering if the face I smiled into was faking it like I was. I wondered if they were hiding behind pleasantries because they form a good shield.
I imagine, on some level, most were. Because nearly everyone has a secret wound.
And, like Cash said, if they haven’t yet, they will be.